Every person or group of people who has ever had to operate on a budget knows the value of travelling light. The former president of Japan Lutheran College in Tokyo, Japan, Dr. Naohiro Kiyoshige, once spoke about Jesus' disciples being sent with little more than a staff in their hands (Mark 6:8) as he addressed a group of people wondering if they would have enough for their next budget and phase of ministry. Dr. Kiyoshige remembered the story of his father, a Japanese soldier taken prisoner during the battle of Okinawa. Dr. Kiyoshige’s father was a Christian. He carried a Bible in the breast pocket of his uniform. When Japanese prisoners of war were captured by soldiers of the United States Marine Corps after the Battle of Okinawa, Dr. Kiyoshige’s father emptied out his pockets. His captors were anxious that there would be something dangerous in them...a grenade, or other weapon, perhaps? But when they found that the item in his clothing was nothing more than a copy of the Holy Scriptures, they immediately relaxed and let out a relieved laugh. That simple Bible, this man's only possession at the time, remained with him throughout his captivity. And receiving permission to lead Bible studies among the other Japanese prisoners, Dr. Kiyoshige's father used his Bible to good purpose. When I stop and consider that the ordinary “capacity” for Kingdom work (church workers, dedicated church buildings, growth of congregational membership, secular political power) is less now than it has ever been for most post-industrial nations of the world, I can't help but call to mind the extraordinary capacity for Kingdom work carried out by a Christian brother with nothing but a Bible in his hands.
Lack of ordinary capacity is actually a call to build on the extraordinary capacity of God’s own gift of Life to us: the precious gift of God's Word, and the mysteriously enriching work of the Sacraments. Everything else, when you think about it, is kind of like icing on the cake. We are disciples of Christ, given to “travel light” in the things of this world…confident that God has provided what we truly need for life. Today as I led an Inquirer's Class with some of our newer families, I was reminded again of that in the explanation of the Lord's Prayer. "God's will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature...and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die." So the call to leave behind all the extra gear is actually a call to freedom. It is a call to be focused on people and life experiences, not on things. We cannot always know how our sharing of that gift will be received. Sometimes, it will be rejected. But that doesn’t mean that we ever give up or stop serving. The gifts of Christ, that overcome evil and bring healing that lasts forever, are in abundant supply. We have God’s sufficient grace. We have the gifts of faith, hope, and love. And so we travel light....following Christ and blessed for the journey! As you identify today what it means to travel light, may you know the abundant blessing of your loving Savior to provide all that you truly need…and more.