Sunday, July 7, 2019

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

"Nānā i hope, nānā i mua"

Rev. Kealahou Alika

Isaiah 66:10-14 & Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

It could be said that the writer of The Gospel According to Luke understood that in looking forward – nānā i mua – we must also look back – nānā i hope. As Jesus “set his face to go Jerusalem” for the final time (Luke 9:57-62), he sends out seventy, two by two, into towns and villages where he himself would later go (Luke 10).

Whether or not Luke was “recalling the seventy nations reported in Genesis 10 (seventy in the Hebrew text and seventy-two in the Greek text),” we do not know. However, it does appear that Jesus was looking back even as he was looking forward.

It could be that he was aware of the story of “the seventy translators who worked for seventy days to give the Gentiles an Old Testament in their own language (Septuagint), or Moses’ selection of seventy elders to be his helpers (Numbers 11:16-25).” Biblical scholars point out from Luke’s “fondness for telling his story with echoes and allusions from the Old Testament,” one may assume that Moses’ choice of twelve to represent the twelve tribes (Numbers 1:4-16) and his choice of seventy (Numbers 11:16-25) was in the back of Luke’s mind (Preaching through the Christian Year C, Craddock, Hayes, Holladay & Tucker, Trinity International Press, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 1994, page 327). It could also be that Luke was also anticipating the mission to the nations and the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5).

The seventy were sent out ahead of Jesus as he prepared to enter the city of Jerusalem for the final time (Luke 19:28-34). They were instructed to travel light – no purse, no bag, no sandals, no greeting to those whom they may encounter on the way. Jesus was aware that the end was near and so he made clear the demands of their discipleship (Luke 9:58-62).

They were to depend on the hospitality of others and to cure the sick. If they were not welcomed, they were to move on. But whether they were welcomed or rejected the message or story to both receivers and rejecters was the same: “The kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:9-11).

The disciples were vulnerable. They had to rely on the “grace and provision of God to take care of them on their journey” (Christian Century, Reflections on the Lectionary, Ayanna Johnson Watkins, June 19, 2019, page 21).

During the month of May we bid aloha to several long-time members of our church family. As we mourned their passing, we also rejoiced upon hearing the good news of the birth of a new generation. It was a time to nānā i hope, nānā i mua.

What are we to make of Jesus’ commissioning of the seventy for our life together as the church here in Mākena? As we consider the life and witness of this church in the years to come, it must be said that Board of Trustees has as its kuleana or responsibility the stewardship of the financial assets of the church. I know that the members of the board take their fiduciary responsibility seriously. My hope is that the members of the board will remind each other and all of us that the greatest asset of the church is its human capital – that is those who are members, family and friends of the church.

Family gathered here yesterday for two events. The first was a memorial service for a man who died in September of last year. His wife, Jackie, is a “Maui girl” born and raised here until she moved to Arizona.

It was there that she met Damyan. They were married and soon their family included their son as well as Isaac’s three siblings from his dad’s previous marriage.

Jackie grew up in our Sunday School. Her dad Mark continues to live here on Maui. Her sister Carley lives in Wisconsin and her mom Barb lives in Arizona.

Although Damyan was not born here on Maui, it was his wish that a portion of his ashes be released into the ocean here in Mākena. As I looked at Jackie and Carley, I was reminded of days gone by; of looking back but also realizing that the gathering with family and friends was another step forward towards the healing that we all seek following the loss of a loved one.

Later that afternoon, we celebrated the marriage of Beth and Matt of San Francisco, California. Beth is a lineal descendant of the Chang family here in Mākena. Matt is originally from Vacaville, California.

Beth’s aunt, Keiki Kawaiʻaeʻa, was invited to share a reading from The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in Hawaiian and English. Keiki began by remembering that her ʻohana has been rooted in Mākena for over a century and a half. Her parents and Beth’s grandpa and grandmother Uncle Eddie and Auntie Laurie Chang live not far from us near Poʻolenalena. Damyan and Matt, through their marriages, became a part of our life as a church family.

Jesus reminds us as he sent out the seventy, so we are sent out to bring healing to others. Like the early disciples, we must also rely on God’s grace and provision to carry us through the journey which lay ahead. Whether in moments of sorrow or joy, we are the church.

As we consider the life and witness of this church in the years to come, may we be mindful of the past – not to be bound by the past but to honor what was and to be free to look toward the future and what the church may become. The heart of the story will always remain the same.

We are called to bring healing to others and to proclaim to all, “The kingdom of God has come near to you and to me!” here in this place. “Nānā i hope, nānā i mua.” Amen.

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