Sunday, January 29, 2017
Gospel Matthew 5:1-12
1When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
18For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation,to save those who believe.
22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified,a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks,Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
The Sermon: Do, Love, Act
The job of preaching, someone has said, is to “Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”
However, I read somewhere this week that “right now everyone’s afflicted.” Blessed are you, poor in spirit, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven. Really Jesus? Really? Who is super abundantly happy at in times such as these. Call them The beatitudes? Try the provocatudes. For even comfort challenges us in days like these. But this is the wisdom of God. And while such wisdom seems foolish to the world, it is our calling. Yours and mine, to proclaim in word and deed and deed more than word that this is the life we are to lead: to bless the poor, to bless the meek, to bless those who are reviled and persecuted, to be peacemakers, to hunger and thirst for righteousness. To do justice. To love mercy. To walk humbly with the Lord our God. To Do. To Love. To Walk. Do. Love. Walk. Do. Love. Walk. Sleep. Repeat.
But how? Where do we start with so much need? There was a discussion on RevGalPals last night. Many of us feeling quite overwhelmed by the contrast between the state of the world – and the statement of the Gospel. Overwhelmed to the point of not being able to write, because there is just so much. Just so much. The author of the post called it preaching paralysis.
Perhaps you have it too, somehow, in your calling, with all that’s going on Beloved. End up going in circles. Not sure how you can possibly impact the need – how you can do justice with so much injustice in the world. How your heart can counter the hate.
As author Johnathan Katz put it: First they came for the Latinos, Muslims, women, gays, poor people, intellectuals and scientists… and then it was Wednesday.
No wonder we are overwhelmed. We are in a season of whelming.
How can we do justice in the midst of this storm? In little ways. One step at a time. One day at a time. The next right thing. As Mother Theresa said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
And small things are God’s way.
God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world,things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
If you recall, last week I was reduced to nothing by the low and despised flu bug. Think of that science. A little organism, a sphere about 80 nanometers long. How big is that? Well, take a hair from your head. The circumference is about 75,000 nanometers. And a flu virus? 80. By that, something that is so tiny I can’t see it – I was reduced to nothing.
And then, you people, YOU people, started doing small things with great love. I was texted. I was emailed. I was called. I was sconed and muffined. I was souped by Presbyterians. And I am grateful. For here I am. Well enough to stand and to hold forth the foolishness of proclamation.
Which is this: you can convert every single thing you did last week to justice this week. No big things. Just small things with great love, body of Christ. Text your representative concerning refugees. Email your name to the alt national park support sign up. Call your neighbor and enlist their help. I was sconed, muffined, and souped. Blessed am I, now bless those who hunger for righteousness. Let’s cook up some Good News!
And walk humbly while we’re doing it, beloved. Because you know, there is no wisdom but God’s. “The discernment of the discerning he will thwart.” Listen up – This is not a political issue in the sense of Republicans and Democrats. Scripture does not allow this division between us. We proclaim Christ crucified,a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, a stumbling block to conservatives and foolishness to liberals –24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, both conservatives and liberals – Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
We are Christians! You know this week a hold was placed on travelers, we of the faith that fled into Egypt. A hold was placed on travelers, we who are called to demonstrate hospitality to strangers. A hold was placed on refuges, we who sing that Jesus loves the little children of the world. We, we the body of Christ, must be the ones to say Let the little children come, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. You can do it. You can do one small thing with great love. Don’t know what to do first? Google the Indivisible Guide. Google “The time for Welcome is Now: Ten Ideas”
Father James Martin says, “We turn away refugees like the Jews were turned away. We close the door on those who suffer most. We have forgotten. And we are anti-life.”
And our Holy writings say, “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as you love yourself, for you were once foreigners in Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
And writer Rev. Rachel Held Evans says, “…Every mama should be able to rock her baby to sleep in safety each night. Today, America made that harder…Every night, as I nurse my little boy for the last time before bed, I pray for all the mamas nursing their babies in refugee camps & rafts..
Listen to this poem by Warren Price:
no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one’s skin would be tough enough…
Or if that story doesn’t get you, perhaps this one will: Matthew 25:31-
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand,
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35 for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me,
I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food,
or thirsty and gave you something to drink?
38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you,
or naked and gave you clothing?
39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’
40 And the king will answer them,
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’
45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
This is the wisdom of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus,who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
So do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord.
Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.
Do Love Walk
Do Love Walk
In the name of the Father an the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.