Calamity Jennye

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Homily

Our church is lay led and that means everyone takes turns doing everything (well pretty much everything) including the sermon. I was asked to preach this past sunday and that is part of why I haven't had many blog posts lately. I think all my brain cells were working together to create this:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing unto you O God.”

I sat down to start collecting some of my thoughts for today and Esme asked what I was doing. I explained that I would be telling the story at church this week, immediately she wanted to know what it was about.

Perfect! I thought, maybe retelling this gospel at a four year old level will help clarify some of my thoughts about things.
So, I explained how there was a shepherd with sheep and goats. That he asked all the sheep to go to one side of him and all the goats to the other.

I tried to gloss over the first obvious difficulty in this passage by saying “then Jesus compares the sheep and goats to humans” – quick pause – no questions, okay that was successful.

Next I explained how the sheep took good care of the other sheep around them; when their friends were sick they took care of them, if someone needed clothes or food they shared anything that person needed.

“Wait, mom, the sheep had clothes?”
Should have seen that coming…
”remember? It’s a comparison, Jesus is just using the sheep and goats to explain how he wants us to act.”

I wrapped up with a couple quick sentences about how the sheep got rewarded with a really great surprise and that the goats who didn’t take care of their friends got… well … you know how we talk about “I love you infinity?” They got the opposite of that, pretty much an eternity without love.
She didn’t even miss a beat as her eyes got really big

“Why did the goats not share?”

I knew it was in there somewhere. I sit here thinking about the misery of an eternity without love, how do you even begin to talk about that? We may just have to ignore those goats…She goes right to root of the problem.

Why did the goats not share?
Why did the man last week bury his money?

I can only come up with one answer:


I think there are a million things we can fear; loss, anger, betrayal, endangerment, not having enough for ourselves. But like that man we see once again where giving in to that fear gets you.

Jesus is showing us the opposite of fear is risk.
We must risk!

There are some frightening images that flash before my eyes even as I say that.  
Oh wait, I actually am standing here.

The first time I read through this passage I was immediately struck with thoughts of hypocrisy and the age-old dilemma of words vs. deeds.

I feel somehow confident, especially given the goats shock at their judgment; that they thought they were doing all the right things. They were probably assuredly saying all the right things. But the part of me who listened last Sunday realizing that risk is a mandate, can’t seem to stop with just deeds. It seems to me it has to be about relationship.

Perhaps this notion of caring for those around us, for doing unto the least of these is not just about doing.  I can go to the lunch and dinner serving of empty bowls and donate twice at each one. But if I’ve overlooked an acquaintance who really needed a friend and missed a chance to invite them to come with me for that bowl of soup then I might as well have done nothing.

This is where we realize that Christianity, that faith, is about relationship. Not just with God but also with the community around me.

It may seem a leap but… We’ve been watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood lately and Alyssa and I have been so marveling at the draw that he has for all children that we recently spent an evening reading about him on Wikipedia. You don’t have to read half of what’s there, coupled with an ounce of experience watching the show to realize why everyone is so drawn in.

Mister Rogers was genuine. He addressed kids with an earnestness that no one can miss. There was no condescension, or patronizing. He simply picked things he thought truly mattered to kids and talked to them honestly about those topics.

When I think about the message Jesus is trying to send in this gospel I think about Mister Rogers. We are called to risk, to face up to our fears and address our friends, family, neighbors, honestly. To risk every bit of ourselves in honest interactions with those around us, and just hope that if we can be half as genuine as Mister Rogers we can’t help but also be meeting their needs.

May the God who calls us into relationship with all; bless us with the desire to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and to risk boldly in the face of our fears.

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