Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46
The sheep at the Lord’s right hand and the goats at the Lord’s left give Jesus the same answer: “When was it that we saw you in the condition that you said we saw you in?” Notice, the Scripture says that the sheep on the right and the goats on the left give answers, they do not ask questions. Surely the Lord is in THIS neighborhood, but when?
Ministers proclaiming the social impact of Jesus’ ministry often remind us, Jesus came to minister to the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked, strange, and marginalized. It’s true! Yet, to abstract Jesus’ ministry from who Jesus is makes him sound like an external figure, a Rabbi who comes to proclaim good news to the marginalized and then retreats to wherever it is he came from. Jesus is a Galilean Jew. Jesus didn’t just come to minister to (them), Jesus is (them). “Just as you did it to one of the least of these … members of my family, you did it to me.”
Remember that small little detail in Peter’s betrayal of Jesus? A bystander tries to convince the crowd that Peter is one of the Jesus people, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” It brings a smile to my face when I think about Jesus having an accent. It totally gives him away. He is one of (them).
Surely the Lord is in FISHER PARK, but when? Maybe it’s when a tired soul sleeps on the cold benches, or when a homeless child washes their feet in the creek. It is when the stranger, the one who doesn’t belong, comes to get a hot meal on Tuesday and Thursday evening and feels like our church is exactly where they belong. It is when an immigrant family, a resident alien, comes to grab a bag of food off the porch of the Faith Action International House.
Whenever (they) are there, Jesus says, “I am there.” When we encounter the hungry, yes, let’s give (them) food. When we encounter the sick, yes, let’s care for (them). However, let us also gather around! For we are in the presence of the Lord.
Lord of All, we confess that too often we have seen you hungry and have not fed you. We have seen you naked and have not given you clothes. Give us the vision to see you and the courage to not look away. As our neighborhood gathers around our church, help us wrap our arms around our neighbors. Be with those engaged in the work of neighborly love in Fisher Park. Help us be good neighbors and turn goats into sheep. In the name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Amen.