Turning away from our neighbors in need defies God’s work on our hearts. If all we can think of is ourselves, how we look to others, how we feel at any given moment, or paying into the latest and greatest new fad on the market, you can bet that we’re not giving God the room to teach us to love. What a miserable way to live.
This is what we were promised. Not that we would never suffer or even that all suffering would be inherently meaningful. No, we were promised that we would not have to suffer alone. God infuses our sorrow with meaning the way a parent does with a sad child, through a closer bonded relationship.
I began writing this sermon halfway up Mt. Mansfield this week. Now, you could argue that it's pretty clever rationalization to work a hike into my sermon prep. And you wouldn't be entirely wrong. Man, that was a nice hike. But I did, indeed, have a method to my madness for my Wednesday hike. Our subject today is joy and a mountain hike is a fabulous metaphor for this sermonizing journey.
The church was never meant to be a building, instead, the church family gathered in one another’s homes - like family. Somewhere along the way we went from calling ourselves "the church" to calling the building "the church." But other things have changed over time, too. Somewhere along the way we started thinking that living in community was optional...
From early in her life, Mother Teresa realized that she saw Jesus in every person that she met. Indeed, the poor were, as she put it, “Jesus in his most distressing disguise.”
Friends, sickness is the great interrupter of life. It enters without knocking, changing all plans, mocking the idea of certainty, and diminishing hope for the future...
We act faithfully, doing what God told us to do - love our neighbors, feed the hungry, welcome the stranger - and hope that God will take these small actions and help them ripple out. That’s the kind of faith that this passage is reminding us to have: A faith that looks to the future without expectation that we will see the end result.
Many wept. I wept. My daughters and my beloved spouse held me as I wept. You see, for our family, this is intensely personal. It is not the speculation of some abstract theological nuance. It is not an issue that we can feel bad about but then move on with our lives. This is a part of who we are. If you don’t think lives are at stake then you might not be paying attention.
How many busy people do we have gathered here? Are you ever too busy? Do you ever compete for the “who is the busiest” props? We live in a culture that is one part false leisure and another part false bravado for being over committed. Yet we have no parts true stillness.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, taught that holiness is a thing that we aspire to through two methodical ways: Social Holiness and Personal Holiness. This week we’re talking about the first and next week we’ll reflect on the second. Conveniently, the lectionary passages from Luke have two perfect back to back stories that will help us on our way. This week, the parable of the Good Samaritan and next week the story about Mary, Martha, and Jesus.