After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'
In every life, there are multiple beginnings and multiple endings. One of the keys to living a good life is learning how to begin and end well. Sometimes, circumstances intervene and mean that we are unable to control whether or not things end well - a rough breakup we didn't see coming, getting fired from a job, a friendship that turns unexpectedly sour. In those cases, this passage from Galatians gives us a wonderful way to cope with such hard endings.
The disciples have gone out to share the story of Jesus in the surrounding towns. This will not always be easy, or welcome work. They will have wonderful beginnings in certain places, and terrible endings in others. When the ending is rough, Jesus instructs them to go to the edge of the town and wipe the dust of that town from their feet. It is a symbolic way of saying I am done with this place, with these people, and I am moving on.
In my covenant group, we have often encouraged each other to actually, physically do this when we have faced hard endings. There is something cathartic about the act of wiping the dust from your feet and marking the official end of a difficult time. It's amazing how then you feel freed up to let go of hard feelings, grudges, the burdens you bear and are suddenly ready to begin again, well. Jesus wipes the slate clean for us all of the time, sometimes we just need the physical reminder that we are allowed to start anew.
Oh God, when I face hard endings, remind me that a new beginning is usually just around the corner. Help me to wipe the dust from my feet, the hardness from my heart, and the fear from my soul. Help me to begin again, in Jesus' name. Amen.