40 WAYS IN 40 DAYS LENT 2015
#19 Sent to Travel Light (Heal and Exorcise)
He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
When I’m in Cambodia I always look forward to staying in Phnom Penh. One of the highlights of my time there is to give alms to the monks. Early in the morning they circulate through the city, and approach homes and villages with their begging bowls. Though I’m a Christian I cannot but honour those who choose to pray and mediate, to live incredibly simply, giving up all except for two saffron robes. Usually I’m in a café reading the paper with my coffee. When they approach I come forward, head down, shoes removed and place my offering in the bowl. They then respond with a chanted blessing.
Jesus’ call to his disciples to take nothing is part of a long tradition where nomadic prophets and healers roamed the countryside, unencumbered by the trappings of a home or its possessions. Unlike our western culture, all encompassing hospitality was a central feature of Semitic culture. When people invited you into their homes, you become part of the family and can stay for as long as you wish.
Jesus desired his followers to live like he did. He started with the synagogues, but after finding rejection, he now went about the villages. Likewise he wished his followers to be free to go where the Spirit directed them, and to visit the people and families directly in their homes.
The monks in Cambodia live simply. They have one meal a day, live together in dormitory style accommodation and participate in regular prayer in the temple. I’ll never forget the day I had the opportunity to travel to visit a temple in the remote north-eastern part of the country. While I was there I offered English classes. Before the classes I was invited to share in the daily meal, composed of all the rice they had been offered together with the food purchased by the alms given that morning. It was a humbling and touching experience.
May we desire to live simply as people of God: attuned to the call of the Spirit; open to speak and authentically live out our faith; and prepared to minister to others. May we live lives where we are not obsessed with our possessions: our need to pay for them; maintain them; and protect them, but instead focussed on what is truly important.
This I pray.
– Tim H, Moreland Baptist