Sheep? Goats? A Sermon on Christ the King Sunday

But Lord

when did we see you and not comfort you?

(pause)

It’s when we ignored the cries of a man on the street

who was only doing what he could for his family

as best he could

but the prejudice that has been built into the system

allows us as a society

to pass system against those

like Eric,

because of their skin,

and because they are worth nothing

allowing them to perish,

(pause)

Lord when did we see you and not be attentive to you?

(pause)

It’s when we pass judgement on someone

because they already are known to the police

Or they have a record

And even when they profess that they have done nothing wrong

With the way injustice has corrupted the system

And the laws that were initially created for a sense of balance

And impartiality,

we execute sentences upon Tamir and Michael

with no grace,

And a community weeps out

Bleeds out

for peace

(pause)

Lord when did we see you

And not share of ourselves?

(pause)

It’s when children are punished

and shamed

because they don’t have enough to pay for lunch

and the food is taken from them,

And suddenly,

Our human made morality

Gets in the way

Of living out the Gospel

Because somewhere we made it the practice

Of making an example of those,

Who don’t pull their economic weight,

So that we wouldn’t have to take responsibility

Or see Christ

In one another’s faces.

(pause)

Lord when did we see you,

And not stand for you?

It’s when we don’t think with the heart

that you planted within us

and instead it’s been uprooted by

It’s when because of the narrative that has been fed to us,

Because of governmental policies

We allow and approve

Through our inaction

Watching people separated by a wall,

As people try to keep their families together

Or try to create healthy communities and future for themselves

or as we watch people

be denied their humanity

because of the lack of mercy practiced

even when it is supposed to be embedded

in the tenet of their faith

(pause)

Lord when did we see you,

And not welcome you at the Table?

(pause)

It’s when we don’t pull up a chair

and offer of ourselves

and conversation

to someone who’s new in our community,

our schools,

our neighborhoods

because we have grown absent-minded

and selfish

believing that Jesus Christ is our own personal Lord and Savior,

believing that people should jump through hoops

to be accepted and invited

to come to the Table,

receiving God’s Grace,

when in fact,

It doesn’t matter what we do,

This

Flows from the One,

Who is the beginning and end

Without money

And without price.

(pause)

What message

Are we,

As a collective society emitting

When we erase

All aspect of hope,

From the lives of those

Who are struggling,

With trying to exist and be?

Especially when

People claiming, they are of faith

Stubbornly defend someone

Because of the pseudo power they perceive they have,

And that perhaps that same power and status,

Will be given to them?

(pause)

What message,

Do we ignore

the Cross,

In the theology of Cross

Where God creates

Something new,

A new covenant

Reminding us

That no matter what the pain,

Situation

Or suffering,

Jesus Christ

Stands in the midst

Empowering us

Towards the Liberation

That has been embedded

And born within us,

Because of God.

(pause)

Right before thanksgiving

I attended

AAR’s conference

Of theological discernment

And formation,

A critical time to be immersed in scholarship,

As I am sure

Members of our own community,

Such as Dr. Menn, and Dr. Krentz

And the Albrights

Have experienced.

(pause)

What I encountered

Was the abstract,

Moving into the concrete

Not for our own edification

But for the preservation

Of the wider expression

Of community.

That Monday,

Over 100 theologians, leaders and scholars gathered,

Making a physical and written stand

Against the violation of life,

Through what’s known as

The Boston Declaration.

It’s modeled after the Barmen Declaration,

Where Bonhoeffer and Barth, many others

Signed a document

Protesting Hitler,

And a system of racist eradication

Against their fellow siblings in Faith.

(pause)

Womanist theologian

The Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey stated

“Today, too many Christians are placing party politics

over the foundational teachings of Jesus.

They make excuses for racial hatred and sexual abuse…

This is the basest kind of tribalism that feeds hatred.

It is the opposite of love,

the opposite of Jesus’ teaching of love and mercy.”

(pause)

The Rev. Dr. Peter Goodwin Heltzel added,

“Far too many Evangelical Christians

have embraced the politics of exclusion,

exploitation,

and hatred,

such that the Good News of Jesus

has become a cover for a social and economic order

that can only be understood as bad news

for far too many.

Responding to Jesus’ courageous call

to love “the least of these” (Matt 25),

we need put our prayers into action with revolutionary love.”

(pause)

The question is,

What side will we be on?

Now I know

This picture before us in our Gospel this morning,

Because of this parable

About the obedient sheep

And

Disobedient goats

That sheep are meek

Mild

Follow without any fuss

Or question

And yes,

In the presence of the One,

Who commands death to cease

Releasing US

Because WE belong only to GOD

The One,

Who calls us

From that place

Of self-dejectedness

Into the light of righteousness,

Yes,

In the presence of Jesus Christ,

We will follow

Without question

Because in His presence

There is unending PEACE

And LOVE.

But sometimes,

When people flip Scripture

For ill gain,

Trying to quiet our righteous anger

Against the fallacy in this world,

Trying to tell us

To be like sheep,

So that they can continue the slaughter-

Sometimes,

We must practice disobedience,

We must reject the narrative

Separating the things of Christ,

From the things that are Anti-Christ

(pause)

Those things that are detrimental

In living fully

Into who we are,

Children of the Creator

Stewards of one another

Goats,

Should not be given a bad name.

It’s not about the labels

But the evils in this world,

That we,

As Children of God

Must separate away

Racism of all forms

Patriarchy that is not committed to the equality and the protection of all

Economic systems that favor one set of beliefs and hierarchy over others,

That drain our lives

Instead of sustaining it

Those,

Those if you want to name it

Are the goats

Selfishness,

Cruelty

Entitlement

(pause)

Those are the things that we should,

As followers,

Yes,

As sheep belonging to Jesus Christ,

Separate from

And run to

The One,

Who has the power to transform US

(pause)

The One

Who recognizes us,

Because even if people perceive us to be meek,

Mild,

We are always doing-

We try to organize ourselves

To share of what we have

Making meals

And having conversations

At many tables

With both college students

And those who are seemingly alone in this world.

We try to organize ourselves,

In places where public witnessing

Is shunned

And truth,

Is buried

Because of the responsibilities that comes with it

Of Mercy

And Love

Advocating for another chance,

For those who have broken relationships

Their communities trust

And sometimes, our collective heart

Have served their time

And now just need…grace.

We try to organize ourselves

Making sure that everyone has enough

Making sure everyone has the same basic needs met.

We are trying,

As people of faith,

With the understanding that the bond between us

And of God

Can never be broken,

And even though we can’t always do things perfectly-

That’s not what Christ was calling us to.

Christ simply called us,

To Love One Another,

And because of Love,

We would at least, try to do

What we can

Where we can.

That’s the Root of the Gospel

That, is the Good News

(pause)

Leaving AAR on Sunday afternoon,

And navigating Boston’s public transit system

I was aware of so many, many homeless people

And perhaps just as you,

We encounter them as we are rushing through life.

I saw a man holding his sign

Stating his hunger

And this Buddhist nun, in beautiful attire

Stopped to not only help him out

But she took time to have a conversation with him

I remarked inwardly that it seemed so easy for her to do this

And questioned why is it so hard

For many of us

To do the same

Or maybe,

Because in our own pleading

For the manifestation of Jesus Christ

To be before us,

For us to see God,

Instead

We see it in the eyes

Of the forgotten

And that frightens us,

And moves us,

To transformation.

Thanks be to God.

Child of Creator=Purpose; Guided by Ancestors = Revolution; Empowered by Holy Spirit = Transformation; Liberated through Ancient Spirituality and Ritual =Love.