Gospel of St. Mark, 6:7
[Jesus] “called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.
‘Wherever you go,’ he said, ‘stay in the same house until you leave town. But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.’
So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.”
The first time attempting anything can be scary. It’s Saturday night. September 1969. 17 years old. WOMT radio, AM 1240. The last disc jockey went home, and I’m alone while the 45 record he put on the turntable is coming to an end. If I wait too long, the listeners will hear ssshhh, ssshhh, ssshhh. I need to flip that microphone switch and say something, anything. The first time is the hardest, especially when you’re alone. But I didn’t feel alone because all the radio announcers I’ve heard during my young life were now living within me. WCFL, WGN, WLS. All those Chicago powerhouse jocks lived within me in the tiny Manitowoc station at 250 watts at dusk. I was not alone.
Johnny Carson had his. Ed McMahon. Sonny Bono had the one with a single name. Cher. Michael Jordan needed this guy. Scottie Pippin. Kathie Lee had hers. Regis. Enough examples? Companions on a journey. Walking with another to make the journey less tedious and more supportive. Another to talk to, regardless if the mood was humor or arguments. Has “a” Mormon ever visited your home? I think not. They travel in pairs in solidarity to ease disappointments or embrace successes.
No need to carry much stuff or what scripture calls provisions. It’s those gifts and talents that we all uncover and use for the betterment of the world. It’s been said that they are “given to us by God,” but I don’t think that’s true. Instead, I believe God blesses those gifts as they become an essential part of your life. When performed for the good of humanity, God then empowers them with the grace of fortitude during trying times and grace of satisfaction when the phrase “well done, good and faithful servant” is felt within our hearts and souls.
No matter your occupation, whether doing obvious church work or driving an Amazon truck with Nike’s emblem on both sides. “All for the greater honor and glory of God” is the tried and true slogan of our beautiful Christian faith. It’s a Christian badge that gives breath to all of our actions, especially in our relationships and personal lives. It’s a trademark not visible on our foreheads but heard in our words and actions. It’s the coat of arms not worn but warmly felt by the words and actions given to us.
“Two by two,” St. Mark tells us today. Those two’s are coupled with provisional gifts that do not belong to us but are used for the greater glory of God. I was about to use the word “empower” next, but that’s too churchy of a word. Instead, I choose a “thumbs up.” Up to where we already know.
It’s now midnight that first Saturday night behind a microphone. I turn off the transmitter and lights and lock the door. I walk home with a spring in my step. I need to get up at 5:00 am. to do it all over again.