A sermon written and preached by the members of the Youth Group at St. George’s Church Campden Hill, 3rd July 2016

A sermon written and preached by the members of the Youth Group at St. George’s Church Campden Hill, 3rd July 2016
Isaiah 66:10-14
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

A few weeks ago, a Christian Aid worker came to work with the Youth Group. Several different issues relating to global poverty were illustrated through the story of a coffee farmer in Brazil who had worked with Christian Aid. This man had previously travelled far from home to find work in a sugar factory. When he arrived, the bosses took his identity papers, saying they needed to check them and would return them. Instead, they kept them. Without these identity papers, the workers couldn’t leave. The bosses withheld pay from them, and failed to provide benefits like health care – and since the workers didn’t have their papers, there was nothing they could do. This man organized the workers together and they went on strike. Eventually, the bosses fled the factory and the workers were able to retrieve their papers – however, since they hadn’t been paid for a very long time, they had trouble surviving until they could find other work.

Christian Aid provided this man with land and coffee plants to help him begin a coffee farm. Now, he is stable and making enough money to support his family.

Relating to this story, we looked at a Bible verse that you also heard in church that same week, two weeks ago now, from Saint Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. “In Christ,” Paul writes, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”

If we were to rewrite that for our times, maybe it would read, “In Christ, there is neither Muslim nor Christian, neither migrant nor native, neither male nor female, neither straight nor gay, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The problems of global poverty and injustice – all the ways in which we fail to live up to the ideal of all being one, equal, respecting each other – seem so overwhelming.  In our Christian Aid session, we learned that 2 billion people in the world still live in extreme poverty, and a further 3 billion are in poverty. We hear every day of the excesses of the super-rich, the companies allowed to evade tax, the horrible mistreatment of workers, human trafficking, and so much more. We hear of mass shootings in nightclubs, and the murder of an MP who spoke up for human rights. We hear about refugees escaping the horror of war being treated like vermin, the dehumanizing language used to try and make us see them as less than human. Some of us try to take action – one member of our Youth Group is boycotting Primark and Starbucks because of human rights violations and tax avoidance. But it feels like the power of an individual is so small, and the evils are so big.

And that’s where today’s Gospel reading comes in.

When we read the reading, Margaret asked us, “what do you think Jesus means when he says the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few?”  And the answer we came up with was, “there’s lots to do, but there’s no people to do it.”

And in our world today, there’s lots to do, but there’s no people to do it.

And so what does Jesus do?  He sends out 70 of his disciples, and he sends them out in pairs. They’re not alone – they’re working together to start doing the work of fixing the world’s pain. Jesus tells them they are “like lambs in the midst of wolves.” We feel like this sometimes – especially at our age, when we have so little power in the world, but care so much about making a difference, and when we feel like we’re up against such powerful evils.  But the disciples weren’t alone, and we – the modern-day disciples, aren’t either.

When the workers in Brazil were being treated unfairly by their employer, they joined together. They made a difference as a group. When Jesus sent out the disciples, they worked together, in pairs. And we, as a church, can join together and make a difference. Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus doesn’t just call us to serve him here in church, but out in the world. We are disciples not just for an hour on Sunday, but every day.

And what happened when the disciples did this? They returned, amazed. “Even the demons are powerless before us!” they said.  They had more power than they knew. They could make more of a difference than they realised.

The problems facing the world today – poverty, climate change, tax avoidance, human trafficking, gender inequality, racism, war, homophobia, and so much more – feel insurmountable. But we, as Jesus’s disciples, are called to go out into the world and do something about them. To heal the world’s sicknesses, and preach the kingdom. We can do it. But we need to do it together. How can we get started?