Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Pentecost 2

"Pray that the Lord will send out Harvesters"

Matthew 9:36-38

June 18, 2017

Last week as I was reviewing the creation account from Genesis, it dawned on me that Adam was placed in Eden as a caretaker. In other words, God gave him work to do. After the fall, he continued to work the land. It was his calling or vocation in life. Later, his children would work at various skills and trades. Work is considered a blessing that enables us to receive our daily bread.

Without workers, nothing would get done. Sometimes, we think of work as a drudgery that must be endured. Yet, there is joy in accomplishment. Jesus saw that people were wandering as aimless sheep without a shepherd. Things were going to be different. The priesthood would no longer be hereditary and the people of God would now include Gentiles along with Jews.

The workforce would have to change to meet the new demands of the Great Commission. Even as He was preparing to send them to carry out His Great Commission, He told His disciples to pray for the Lord to supply workers for His harvest. This directive has been handed down to us.

Matt. 9:36-38. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest."

There is more to life than our physical needs. As Moses reminded the people, "man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." While there is physical labor, there is also spiritual work for us to do.

The work of the Gospel is both something formal and, also, informal. It is informal as we live as Christians in the world. In our speech and actions, we are witnesses of the Gospel. The work of the Gospel becomes formal when pastors are ordained, when church workers are commissioned and when missionaries are sent.

Our Lord reminds us that this work is begun, sustained and ended in prayer. First, we pray. As we continue to pray, we wait to see how the Lord will provide. The harvest is plentiful. All over the world, pastors, evangelists and ordinary Christians give witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are fulfilling the Great Commission. The Gospel is to be preached to all the world. t is vitally important that we go because only when the Word is preached will the Holy Spirit work in the hearts of those who hear the Good News.

In the Lamb's Lesson the children saw a picture of the McDermott family. It wasn't all that long ago that they were living in rural Iowa. Now, they are in west Africa in a nation called Burkina Faso. Their dad is a pastor working with the deaf in several countries of western Africa. How did this come about? In our prayers, we pray for workers to go into the harvest fields. Through a series of events, the Lord led Pastor McDermott and his family from the corn fields of Iowa to the harvest field in west Africa.

While we rejoice that they have been joyfully and well received, we also remember that this was not always the case. The earliest missionaries to Africa faced difficult and daunting challenges. They were not always well received. They worked to overcome language and cultural barriers. Their work didn't show immediate results. Yet, with the help of the Lord, they persevered.

Along the way, we and they are reminded that as Christians we walk by faith and not by sight. Although we cannot always see how the Holy Spirit is working, we simply follow the Lord's leading. He does not tell us how everything will work out. Things can change quite dramatically, often when we least expect them. A hundred years ago, missionaries to Africa were often discouraged. In spite of their best efforts, it seemed as if they were seeing meager results. Yet, without their dedication, today we would not be seeing the explosive growth of Christianity throughout that vast continent.

Often, we need to be reminded that it isn't just our responsibility to send laborers into the harvest, we are also to support them in their work. It's one thing to send our missionaries to far off places and another to help keep them there. Fifteen years ago, Synod was calling missionaries back to this country. When President Harrison took the leadership of Synod, he reminded us of the importance of supporting missionaries. Since that time, hundreds have gone to the mission fields either in this country or abroad as either short-term or career missionaries.

If you have some spare cash, leave it in the box as you leave. We will send it to St. Louis in the name of the McDermott family. You may not have much but every little bit helps. Although the social media is a mixed blessing, it works to keep us in contact with people all over the globe. The McDermott's have a facebook page. Often, it is Emily who posts what is happening in Africa. Check out their adventures as they work for the Lord in west Africa.

In the meantime, we continue to pray that the Lord will send workers into the harvest fields. This is more critical than you may think. This spring 61 calls for seminary graduates went unfilled. Many congregations have no shepherd. Our prayers will join with theirs that the Lord of the harvest will send workers to them.

The Lord is gracious and He will provide. Yet, we need to remember that He provides through us. Through our prayers and encouragement, workers will enter the harvest fields. Through our prayers and monetary support, workers will be trained, prepared and sustained in their work. The Lord will help us persevere as we walk by faith as He leads and guides us.

We are workers. We are reminded that we enter the mission field as we leave the church today. Mission work isn't something far away and exotic. It begins with sharing the Good News, Jesus loves you, with family and friends and neighbors. The Lord will give you the confidence and boldness to enter the fields white to the harvest. Amen.


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