We are burdened by stuff. I knew this before I moved, and now I know it more to an even higher degree. It is the curse of our people. We have too many things. Even if you live as I did, in a small home, it’s possible to pack one’s belongings in even tighter. Then, when the day of reckoning arrives, and you’re required to lay hands on each item, you realize the overabundance of your possessions. The absolute greed of the minutiae which dominates every area of your life is beyond befuddling.
At the moment it needs to be packed and loaded into a vehicle and transported to another house of worship, never greater is my urge to destroy all my belongings and begin my new ministry with only the clothes on my back. Donate them, destroy them, burn some; by this point in the process, I no longer care. I want to be free of the junk I’ve collected. Purge is probably the correct word. I want to confess my sins made manifest in the garbage I’ve carried year after year and to church after church. I seek absolution. Throw that dresser and its contents as far as the east is from the west. I am now a minimalist, and I will be happy. I’m not just saying this. I am happy.
I learned everything I need to know about being a minimalist disciple from Jesus of Nazareth. In fact, this week’s lectionary passage makes the case for downsizing dramatically. In Luke 10:4, Jesus sends out the disciples with these instructions, “Carry no wallet, bag, and no sandals.” Wow! That’s basic! I love it. Think of all the stuff we claim we need to do ministry. How many Bible apps do I have on my iPad and iPhone combined? I’ve got four robes, a dozen stoles, and I moved more pairs of shoes than I can count. I have two wallets. Why do I need two wallets?
Jesus wanted the disciples to be dependent on those they encountered and their hospitality. People matter more than things. Stuff, like the batteries in our gadgets and headset microphones, will eventually fail. Our wallets will be stolen. We build community by opening up to others. If the doors don’t open, Jesus says move on. The kingdom of God is coming one way or another. How free are we to move, whether we’re itinerant clergy or not? Are we able to walk across the street or down the road? Is there emotional baggage holding us back? What do we need to put down so we can go serve Jesus? Somewhere, something is needing to be done.
Richard Lowell Bryant