excerpt of sermon, Matthew 25:31-40
You know, my friend who is also in ministry often quotes a famous saying, ‘Everyone Wants a Revolution…But No One Wants to Do the Dishes.’ And I have to believe at times he’s absolutely right.
But we also need to recognize that simply ‘following Jesus’ is not easy. In many cases, those individuals who followed Jesus ended up…dead. Many of them ended up in prison. Many of them ended up as outcasts from people who were just previously their friends and family. To be honest, it’s hard to follow EVERYTHING Jesus was recorded as saying. If we did, we’d have people walking around with gouged eyes and cut off limbs…just look at Matthew 18.
An example of trying to follow these words has been going on right here at this church for the past couple of weeks. Many people have been trying to figure out how to embrace both mission efforts of caring for the homeless and jobless of this community, which is something that is relatively new to us, and welcoming the children and families of this community, which we have been doing for many years now. And guess what: it got messy. People’s feelings have been hurt. There has been arguing. There have even been threats.
And while much of this behavior is not condoned, despite all of this, there is good that is happening here with this congregation. Discussions about homelessness are happening in ways that have never been discussed here previously. The question, ‘what would Jesus do’ is being earnestly asked. Fears and prejudices of the homeless and those that don’t look or act like us are being examined. And one way or another, no matter how messy it gets, people are thinking about what it means to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and welcome the stranger, in very practical ways here in Tequesta.
The ‘church’ as we know it, however, then becomes conflicted in today’s culture, and this church is no different. We have on one side the yearning to be a ‘safe place,’ where all people can come as they are, and where we’ll have our dinners and programs, and not have to worry about the dangers of the world for at least a few moments each week. This is a very reasonable expectation, and one that many at our church take seriously.
And then on the other side we have the teachings of Jesus and scripture, which for all intensive purposes will ultimately lead us to the same dangers and risks that many Christians have faced since day one. So what are we to do? And why risk our safety, our reputation, our lives? Following Jesus goes against how many understand church, especially in the United States…and especially amongst Presbyterians . Following Jesus is at times not ‘nice’ or ‘decently and in order’ or ‘convenient’. In many ways it will lead to loss, tears, frustration, death…and ultimately new life. So somehow, we are called to embrace both sides of the Christian life…and it can be done.
And this is where the Good News of today’s message comes in, so listen up. We take these daily risks in life to follow Jesus, because slowly, but surely, we see how it helps to realize God’s community here on earth, and God is revealed in our daily lives. When we help feed the hungry through canned food drives, gift cards, or physically making meals and sharing them with others, we are part of God’s work here on earth.
When we provide a roof for someone to sleep under when no one else will take that person in, we are part of God’s work.
When we provide a fun, safe, and healthy environment for preschool and elementary children and our youth to grow and learn within, we are part of God’s work.
When we welcome someone who may not talk, act, or look like us to this church, we are part of God’s work here on earth.
When we are using our lives to love the ‘least of these,’ to borrow the words of my friend, we are not only saying we want a revolution, we are helping with the dishes as well, and God is revealed in our daily lives.