The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
I find it interesting that this is the only place in the Gospel of Mark that the disciples are not referred to as disciples, which means students of another - in this case, students of Jesus. The disciples here are referred to as “apostles,” which means ones who are sent on a mission.
One of my favorite books is titled, St. George and the Dragon and the Quest for the Holy Grail, by Edward Hays. It is a whimsical tale about George, not really a Saint, a man who lived at the end of the 20th century, who decided to leave his job and his family and go on a quest.
His wife wasn’t too happy with him. His boss thought he had been working too hard and was, perhaps, suffering from burnout. The travel agent didn’t quite know what to do with his request to travel on a quest.
But off he went, and on the first night he met a dragon. Of course, that would make sense because when you are on a quest, you would expect to see a dragon. But this was no ordinary dragon. This dragon was a teacher and she decided to help George on his quest, which it turns out is ultimately a quest for God and to know God better.
To start his quest, she ordered him back home, to work on his quest before and after work and to continue to care for his family. They went on journeys from his house, where they would often meet at the hermitage he had set up behind his garage.
It is a delightful story. There are many things I like about the story, but one of the pieces that really touched me was when the dragon asked, “Do you have a name?”
“Well, yes, I’m called George,” I replied.
“George? Is that all? Just plain George?” asked the dragon. “Nothing in front of it, like Saint George or Sir George? How can you expect to be treated with proper respect as one on a quest if you have no title? Who will believe you if you are just plain George?”
“Well, perhaps you are right, Dragon,” I replied. “My neighbors think I am mad, by boss thinks I’m suffering from burn-out and my wife, I am sure, thinks I’m having an affair but all that’s ever in front of my name are the two letters, ‘MR.’”
“Sorry George,” replied the dragon. “They won’t do; no romance in ‘MR’ – or color either. We will give you a proper title if you wish to go on a quest.” With a dramatic flourish the dragon drew himself up to full height and announced in a deep, regal voice, “I, the Celestial Dragon, dub thee with the title ‘ST.’ You may have it printed on your laundry tags for your socks and underwear and have it painted on your mailbox – hence to be known by that title to everyone.”
“With all due respect, Dragon, you can’t do that. Only the Pope can make someone a saint.”
“ST.,’ my dear quester,” said the dragon, “doesn’t mean ‘Saint’; it is the abbreviation of the four-letter word ‘Sent’. You, my friend, are George-who-is-sent, or Sent George. You have to be sent before you can become a saint. And it seems that the Voice of God is calling you or sending you on your quest.”
I like that. George isn’t the only one sent. You and I are also sent. We are sent on a quest in this life to know God, to love God and to make God’s love known to a world in need of that love.
Remember this: we are the apostles, the sent ones, called on this day to see the needs of people who are hurting around us, to make a difference. When disappointments and frustrations come, may we learn to give them to God, to see the needs around us and remember that we are the ones sent by God to make a difference.
Loving God, thank you for calling us into life and into ministry. Thank you for sending us to make a difference in the communities in which we live. Continue to shape us into the people you need us to be and become. Help us to live in such a way that your love can be seen in us and move through us to touch this world. In the hope Jesus offers us, Amen.
Director of Congregational Development