Messenger. That’s what Apostolous means in Greek and what the later church patriarchs called those first 12 men (no ladies please) Jesus called to follow him. I think we missed the message of the messenger. Our sermons are filled with images of following Jesus. Crowds followed him around the countryside, parables talked of sheep following the shepherd, men and women followed him seeking healing. Following, following.
Messenger however, is not about following. It is about delivering. Here’s a letter, go deliver it to the lady down the street. Here’s my Fedex package, please deliver it to the store in the next town. Amazon.com delivers the goods we purchase. Our President delivers his State of the Union address. People deliver sermons or gifts or help. Jesus delivered his message and those 12 men he called were not asked to follow him around like little puppy dogs or sheep. No, they were asked to listen to him and then deliver his message to others. Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” Sheep being his peeps. Sheep being those peeps who were out there needing help. Those on the edge, the marginalized, the shunned, the forsaken, you might even know them as “Those people.” And, we all know what that means. Feed my peeps the message. Be my messengers.
The message we are missing, and the messengers we are not, is that there are a lot of peeps out there in a whole lot of hurt. The hurt of homelessness, the hurt of joblessness, the hurt of grief, the hurt of depression, the hurt of poverty, the hurt of hunger, the hurt of torture, the hurt of only God knows what. Jesus’ message is simply this: Help them. Feed them. Visit them. Heal them. Find them justice. Forgive them. Give them mercy. Love them. Bring them peace.
The National Geographic Magazine just featured a story on the Apostle’s journeys. It was a great article and traced the steps of those Apostles as they carried the message to places far flung from Nazareth. They got it, finally. Many of us haven’t. We sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday looking for some elusive spiritual experience and it never comes. Or we meditate in candlelit churches or corners or nooks and wait for that spiritual presence of God to wash over us and bring us into some ethereal experience. Ain’t gonna happen. Oh, sure meditation and silence is good to “Listen” for the message from God. But, most folks aren’t listening, they are just waiting for some mystical physical feeling to take hold. Better to study the scriptures and let those words soak into your psyche until you know how to deliver Jesus message.
If we are truly messengers, we won’t simply go around mouthing those words, we will BE those words. We will walk the walk of Jesus. We won’t just sit in church or go to a potluck supper or chair a fundraiser thinking we are following Jesus. We will BE Jesus in the world, we will deliver his message in person, face-to-face, get our hands dirty, speak up, speak out, be an advocate, be a voice for those who have no voice, and really BE the messenger who IS the message. Then we can truly call ourselves, Apostolous!