Last night I watched the first video of The Hobbit series and Gandalf said something about the work of good people being able to keep evil at bay. That started me thinking about how what we do not only keeps evil at bay, but also ushers in the Kingdom of God.
Those thoughts began earlier in the day as I wept while watching the video of the Mayor of New York vowing to fight against evil. He vowed to fight against registration of Muslims and Mexicans. He vowed to fight against racially motivated and discriminatory laws that would affect the citizens of New York. How sad that a major city feels the need to vow to stand together and fight the injustices that they fear their own federal government may oppose. I pray that the good people of New York will prevail.
And I thought about what Matthew recorded about how Jesus wants us to behave as citizens of this world, saying, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
There is grace and judgement in the words of Jesus, who commands that we care for one another in the world.
“Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 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, 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.”
In our current world climate I would add all those whose differences from the “norm” that we embrace set them apart. When we discriminate against those who are refugees, those whose religion, politics, race, ethnicity, creed or sexual orientation is different from ours, then we are discriminating against Jesus. Sobering thought.
When we believe, or repeat or fail to stand against the lies that are told to engage our fears, we fail Jesus. When we allow the fear mongering to affect the ways we treat others, then we fail Jesus.
I also reflected on the sermon that I preached the Sunday after 9/11. At the time I was living without television. I did not carry the images of the planes hitting the buildings, the image in my mind was the Governor of New York’s words that I heard on the radio, when he spoke of the need to forgive. That Sunday I was preaching on the parable of the lost sheep. I pointed out that the sheep didn’t know he was lost but that didn’t stop the shepherd from looking for it and rescuing it. I added that we need to look around us and see the lost sheep in the people we meet, even if that person was flying a plane into a building. Jesus came to save the lost and Jesus loves everyone, even those who harm others and we are called to do the same. Love and forgiveness are what we are called to live. Grace is the gift that we impart.
How do we live up to the great calling found in Matthew 25. By sharing love and grace with all whom we meet. By working for justice. By working for peace. By sharing out of our abundance. By giving a helping hand. By treating everyone as if they were Christ Jesus and doing to them and for them as Jesus himself would if he were there. In fact he is there–IN US. We are the only hands and feet that Jesus has.
My prayer for us and for the world this Christmas is that we will work together to bring peace and justice to all the people of the world that Jesus died to save.
Let us pray: PEACE AND JUSTICE
Prince of Peace, loving Christ, call forth the best of us
Engage our hearts, wills and imaginations to see how to make this world a better place
Accept and increase even the slightest effort we make in Kingdom living
Cause us to grow in grace
Encourage us to give away all the grace we have daily
Appeal to us again and again to live as you would live
Nourish and grow our desire to love as you love
Direct our hands and feet in your service
Jesus help us to daily love you
Uplift our hears
Send us forth in your name
Teach us how to live sacrificially
Inspire us with your Spirit
Call us again and again
Enter our living and remain with us until this world is what you desire it to be.