Yesterday the Board of Deacons along with some of our Food Pantry staff handed out Thanksgiving baskets to about 70 families; families for whom food is scarce.
Some are seniors, many with disabilities, who are living on social security alone, and barely able to pay for housing, utilities, and medical bills, no less buy food.
Others are families, often with small children, who if getting a paycheck are finding it doesn’t come close to paying the bills.
Some are immigrants who are living on the edge, for good or for ill, living in a place where, this past week it was 20 degrees one night, and so everything has to be saved for heat.
And some folks are just those who we used to say are “down on their luck”. Jobs that were keeping them going, are gone, closed. And some are just struggling, mentally, emotionally, physically, and relationally.
Many of us have been there, or by the grace of God, have almost been there. But thanks be to God, we’ve had a support community in our time of need.
I remember a story Katie told Sue and I of a coworker who lost their job because her car stopping working and she couldn’t get to work.
Katie, somewhat surprised asked her why her parents didn’t help her out.
And she said her parents and siblings had nothing they could offer her. No vehicle, no money, and so, no way to get to work.
It is into these first world problems the story of the Son of Man coming in all his glory is read for today’s scripture lesson. A reminder that we are as followers of Jesus, a communion, an assembly, a church, and followers of the master.
Imagine, if you would, the scene! It is almost beyond human comprehension! Perhaps totally beyond our comprehension.
Jesus, and all his angels, and a throne. A throne of completion, and celebration, and joy!
King Jesus, the beloved of God and the one loved by so many of us, finally in his rightful place. And all of God’s people got up and danced, singing at the top of our lungs, rejoicing in God our savior, who has come for us!
It is also a throne of judgment. Think about that for a moment. Ouch!
I’m sure the disciples Jesus was telling this story to were confused by the story and I think some of us are too - or at least should be.
I mean, aren’t all of us going to be happy to see Jesus!
And haven’t all of us been doing exactly what Jesus did? I mean haven’t we all been wearing our WWJD bracelet, “what would Jesus do”?
Think about your own life and your family’s life. What are some of the ways you have made a difference in someone else’s life this past year?
What opportunities you have taken advantage of and acted like Jesus!
What are some of the opportunities where you have been the one caring for others. Where you have been the one to help, the one to be kind.
It is at this throne Jesus says there will be a separation of people, just like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
And it seems this separation is pretty serious. And while there is good news for some, for others not so much.
The huge surprise is what Jesus says makes the difference between those sheep and goats!
Not their faith! But what their faith has led them to do!
For the ones who, as Jesus notes, fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, welcomed strangers, clothed folks who needed clothes, and visited the sick and in jail, there is a joyous entry into eternal presence of God.
But for the ones who didn’t do those things, there is some serious, BBQ-ing going on.
Which is why it is so exciting that 84 shoeboxes came in last Sunday to make a difference in the lives of children.
Which is why it is so exciting to see our folks getting busy to make sure our neighbors are fed!
Which is why it is so exciting to be part of a congregation who supports the work of Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeater Anonymous and sponsors a Boy Scout Troop and Girl Scout troop, and why we as a faith community believe that simply acknowledging our neighbors in need is good…
But actively looking for ways to alleviate their suffering is so much better!
What we do for others matters, not because it in itself saves us, but because it reveals our faith.
We believe that God has got us, and so we can with confidence pour out ourselves on behalf of the Kingdom of God, caring and sharing and being kind in ways that mark us as disciples of Jesus.
The other day I was looking on the Heifer Project webpage. I wanted to see what the $500 gift you all gave on behalf of Sue and I being here for forty years could do.
Its $500 for a heifer, or $120 for a goat, or $20 for a flock of chicks. $30 for honeybees, $120 for a sheep, $120 for a pig, $250 for a water buffalo, or $20 for a flock of ducks.
But because it’s November, they have a unique opportunity. Every gift is matched times three. So, you didn’t give $500 to help folks somewhere around the world get a start at sustainable agriculture. You sent $1500!
Because we decided to do what Jesus would do!
And all God’s people danced and sang and gave glory to the one who sits on the throne!