In preparing my sermon for this Sunday, based on Matthew account of Jesus sending the Disciples into the world (link here) I am struck by the simplicity of the instructions. The disciples are instructed to bring no food, to carry no extra clothes, to enter the first home that seems reasonable and stay there until they leave. And if no one welcomes them, to simply shake the dust off and move on. And their task, although challenging, is also simple, it is to be like Christ.
It is important not to confuse simple with easy. Following the pathways of Christ are not easy, by no means, but they are simple. The Gospels give lots of examples, and in this particular passage, it is summarized rather succinctly:
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36
Churches can be this simple as well. Over the years, big churches created exemplary programs, but as many of those big mainline churches have shrunk, their ability to keep up that programming has been challenging. In some situations, congregations have grown to identify themselves with their programs instead of their unity with the divine.
In this era of 24 hour news cycles and new gadgets that promise to simplify tend to only complicate life, true simplicity is at a premium. Churches can capture this simplicity by focusing on the life of Christ, and striving to follow in those pathways, focusing on the gifts that are already present in a congregation, instead of trying to be something that they may never be able to be, or want to be.
How holy it is to simplify.