Packing for Jesus' Mission Trip: Reflections on Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
July 7, 2013
In the past when packing for trips, I've often left something important at home I should have brought. I went to South Africa one August a couple of years ago. While packing in Dallas, Texas, I had a hard time taking seriously the fact that it is winter in South Africa in August. I spent much of the trip yearning for the pair of warm, comfortable black boots I'd taken out of my suitcase at the last minute.
At other times, I've brought things on trips I wish I had left at home. I've trudged through airports with my seventy-pound backpack on my back, questioning why I felt it necessary to bring a laptop, iPad, Kindle, and seven books.
Those days are pretty much past. Not to brag, but the experience of lots of travel has made me an expert packer. I don't take too much, but I take enough. What I take depends on where I'm going and what I'll be doing.
I've learned that you can tell a lot about the purpose of a trip or the nature of an event by the invitation and the pack list instructions.
- Dress is business casual. (social event for work)
- Dress is Christmas casual. (Christmas social event for work)
- Bring a Bible and a flashlight. (summer church camp)
- Arrive by 5pm. Park down the street and come around to the back. It's a surprise, so don't spill the beans! (birthday party)
- Bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen. (mission trip or river raft trip)
- You'll be reimbursed for all travel, lodging, and food expenses. Please save and submit original receipts within two weeks of your return home. (business trip)
- Bring a salad or dessert to share. (church potluck)
- Wear comfortable shoes. (hiking club outing)
- Please no flowers. Send donations in honor of... to... (funeral)
- Please no gifts. (wedding)
- Please, gifts, the more expensive the better. (Just kidding, invitations never say this!)
It doesn't take a genius to figure out the rationale for the instructions.
- You'll be doing some schmoozing, so look professional but not like you're trying too hard.
- We'll be outside working the sun.
- We'll be doing a lot of walking.
- We'll be doing some serious eating.
- It's a surprise party!
- The electricity may go out.
- We're going to be having devotions every evening.
The invitation and packing directions for Jesus' mission trip in Luke 10 promise an odd combination of experiences. What can we infer we'll be doing and not doing by them? What should we bring? What should we wear?
You're going to be working very hard because it's a big job and not enough people have signed up. ("The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few"—10:2)
You're going to meet people who will be hostile to your efforts and you're going to be in situations where you will experience rejection. ("See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves"—10:3; "Wipe the dust of the town that rejects you off your feet" --10:11)
You are to drastically under pack. ("Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals..."-- 10:4) Apparently, you are not going to need any luggage whatsoever. This is a stumper. Why not? The instructions don't say. Is it because you'll be washing your clothes frequently or borrowing clothes from your hosts?
Alyce M. McKenzie is the George W. and Nell Ayers Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.