Homily – Matthew 25: 31-46

Matthew 25: 31-46

The Sheep and the Goats

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

As Matthew 25 makes clear,

the Christians should see everyone as   “Christ” in the flesh.

-scholars argue that in the New Testament, “stranger” and “neighbor” are in fact synonymous.

 

“love your neighbor as yourself,” refers not just to people whom you know –   your “neighbors”  down the street

but also to people whom you do not know.

 

Paul makes this clear when he writes

that in Christ,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female.”

 

Scripture is very CLEAR —

Welcome the stranger –                we are all of one body

But….for some scripture is not so clear —

________

The Bible has once again been MIS-used for political reasons…

Attny General Jeff Sessions –

UMC The group claimed in a June 18 statement that Sessions, a member of a Mobile, Alabama, church, violated Paragraph 2702.3 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” Sessions said. “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders summed up the same idea:

“It is very biblical to enforce the law.”

 

 

Once again – cherry picking scripture to support the argument…

 

Romans 13 New International Version (NIV)

13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

BUT if SESSIONS had continued quoting Romans 13 he would have undermined his argument…  VERSE 8  – Paul says…

 

VERSE 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,”[a] and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor.

Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
PLUS-

Anyone claiming to walk the Christian walk should KNOW that Jesus NEVER put secular law above the welfare of the person.

 

As usual, trying to apply BIBLICAL principles to COMTEMPORARY matters of POLICY is too ambiguous …

 

Christians have taken opposing sides of the immigration/undocumented works and refugees – yet READ THE SAME Bible…

The filters through which scripture is interpreted  makes for a wide range of understanding—

__________

BUT –

The Bible is CRYSTAL clear on the principles of

WELCOMING THE STRANGER

There is NOTHING ambiguous about

LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF

_

Like the expert in the law – seeking the proverbial LOOPHOLE –

A way to be selective in who we are to love, welcome and care for…

 

This lawyer wanted to nail down the definition of NEIGHBOR –

So he asked Jesus

So, who is my neighbor?

Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan…

Rarely is Leviticus  a source of inspiration,

We find one of the clearest statements in the Bible about extravagant welcome.

Listen

Leviticus 19:33-34 (NIV)

33 “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

The argument of immigration is not new…

It has existed since time began….

____________

Today it is about Mexican people seeking a safe place to live and raise their children…

I do not believe for one SECOND that they risk their lives in the back of semi-trailers in suffocating heat –

The people who migrate from and to Mexico, crossing 25 miles in a 114 degree desert to get to this country, risk their lives to get here not because they want to take away from you or from me. They come because they too love their families and are trying to survive.

 

___

By the way –

What American is out of work and hungry because an immigrant took the job

Of roofing houses in 100+ temperatures

Or hand plow and harvest vegetables from   the ground..

Or work tobacco fields in the heat…                  absorbing the nicotine toxins

I f you asked a farmer… they don’t ALL hire immigrants because they are cheap labor… but because they are LABOR

____

In 2013   NY TIMES ran an article by Adam Davidson Journalist focusing on Business and Economics and co-founder of NPRs Planet Money

Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy?

In a very simplistic summary of the article….

He reports that because immigrants take the basic low level jobs – it actually helps the economy…

Because they take on the unskilled labor that comes along with skilled work, it frees the skilled workers to move onto do more skilled work… rather than be paid SKILLED wages for unskilled cleanup work.

_________

Economists agree that there are downsides to undocumented immigrants, but that the upsides outnumber them. Economy actually improves.

But, what is the difference… whether their doing the scutt work helps the economy or not?

_______

We are to welcome the stranger –

Even when it is inconvenient…

The Hospital has to have interpreters    available to assist patients and families in receiving good health     care…                                        whether these aliens are   undocumented,

or just new to the country…           and have not learned the                   language yet.

This is another reason

We cannot believe immigrants are        coming here to take stuff away    from us…

HOSPITAL

Trauma – hurt on the job

Fell off roof –                                    unable to speak language

Time to get interpreter can                        cause loss of life

Unable to comfort patient – effectively

Explain medical issues –               get important medical information –

Allergies

History

Even with interpreter – there is a gap   between the patient and       doctors./nurses

Coming here legally or not, is RISKY

Isolating

Dangerous

Scary

__________

My Master’s Thesis in 2009

Address scenario about

Immigrant family / cultural differences

Welcoming the stranger and their               beliefs

 

 

++++

  • Immigrants appear throughout Scripture:
    • Abraham left his homeland for the land God would show him, promising to bless him and all other peoples through him.
    • Joseph was a victim of human trafficking, sold as a slave.
    • Naomi was forced to flee her homeland because of famine, and Ruth returned with her when God provided food again.
    • Mary and Joseph brought their baby, Jesus, across several borders to Egypt to avoid Herod’s murderous intentions.
  • Immigrants are created in God’s image.
  • God tells the people of Israel, time and time again, to “welcome the stranger, for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt.”
  • Hospitality, particularly to the stranger, is a theme in both the Old and New Testaments, and it’s a central theme of Jesus’ ministry.
  • The Greek word for hospitality is philoxenia, meaning “love of the other.”
  • The treatment of immigrants in our midst is a relevant application for numerous biblical themes—
  • stewardship, grace, biblical justice, evangelism, fellowship, unity, hospitality, the role of government, reconciliation, power

 

Remember Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt

— A family is forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution—REFUGEES   IMMIGRANTS

This is the classic modern-day definition of a refugee. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines that group of people as follows:

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

Jesus began his life as an immigrant fleeing the land in which he was born to escape Herod’s Wrath

Welcome the Stranger –

Let us pray:

 

Immigration Prayer

Creator God,
open our eyes so we can see you in the eyes of our immigrant brothers and sisters,

eyes downcast for having lived so long in the shadows,
eyes challenging us to join them in the streets or picket lines,
eyes lifted looking for the Christ light in us.

Compassionate God, who has come to dwell among us,
open our ears to hear the cries of your children,

children being separated from their parents,
rounded up in raids,
led to detention centers,
silently giving up dreams.

God of Justice, who crosses all boundaries,
give us courage to resist, to say NO

to unfair labor practices,
to unjust laws like SB 1070,
287g contracts.

Give us the strength to stand with and for

your inclusive love,
faith to believe,
another world is necessary and possible.

Let it begin with us.

 

 

Communion Meditation

Next month is the 54th anniversary of the Desegregation of LUNCH counters…

WE reserve the right to refuse service to…

Up until that time – only WHITE people could sit at the counter. No one else was welcome or served.

54 years is not really all that long ago…

Even Churches refused to allow certain people to be served communion…

Because of color

Location of church membership

Lack of baptism

________

I can’t help but shake my head at the irony of a Christian refusing to share communion with someone…

Welcome the stranger/love your neighbor

Share the meal…

Homily Caring for God Genesis 1: 26-31

The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.” (Psalm 24:1–2, HCSB)

Genesis 1: 26-31 

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind[c] in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,[d] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind[e] in his image,
in the image of God he created them;[f]
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them,                      “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue (calm, placate, soften, mollify) it; and have dominion (control, authority, domination, power, rule) over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

 

With the living creatures now in place,  our sacred story continues,

 

Global Warming noun

  1. a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants.

 

Fracking noun

  1. the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.
  2. Fracking uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost.
  3. Environmentalists say potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
  4. There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors.

 

Strip Mining

strip mining meaning: a method of obtaining substances such as coal from the ground that involves removing the top layer of soil instead of digging deep holes …

Litter

Trash/waste just tossed aside anywhere –

An issue that has been debated since 1953…

1953 – 1970

  • 1953: National Advisory Council organizes.
  • 1956: First public service announcement (PSA) about litter prevention appears.
  • 1960: Keep America Beautiful begins its more than 50-year relationship with the Ad Council.
  • 1965: First Lady of the United States of America, Lady Bird Johnson, joins Keep America Beautiful in promoting highway beautification, stating “Ours is a blessed and beautiful land. But much of it has been tarnished. What can you do? Look around you: at the littered roadside; at the polluted stream; the decayed city center. We need urgently to restore the beauty of our land.”
  • 1967: Canine TV star Lassie appears as mascot for an anti-litter campaign.
  • 1970: In partnership with the Ad Council, launched what became known as the “Crying Indian” PSA campaign, iconic symbol of environmental responsibility and one of the most successful PSA campaigns in history.

Plastic

Bakelite. The first plastic based on a synthetic polymer was made from phenol and formaldehyde, with the first viable and cheap synthesis methods invented in 1907, by Leo Hendrik Baekeland, a Belgian-born American living in New York state. … Bakelite was a purely synthetic material, not derived from living matter.

Plastics are generally made from petroleum. If the plastic is incinerated, it increases carbon emissions; if it is placed in a landfill, it becomes a carbon sink[62] although biodegradable plastics have caused methane emissions[

Plastic straws are really bad for the ocean. We use over 500 million every day in America, and most of those end up in our oceans, polluting the water and killing marine life. We want to encourage people to stop using plastic straws for good. If we don’t act now, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

AREN’T PLASTIC STRAWS RECYCLABLE?

Most plastic straws are too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. They drop through sorting screens and mix with other materials and are too small to separate, contaminating recycling loads or getting disposed as garbage.

 

Plastic straws end up in the ocean primarily through human error, often 1) left on beaches in coastal communities and seaside resorts globally 2) littered OR 3) blown out of trash cans (oftentimes overfilled) or transport boats and vehicles.

Storm Drains – lead to the ocean

WE NEED TO STOP MAKING PLASTIC STRAWS

—————————-

Styrofoam

trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam

In the United States and Canada, the colloquial use of the word styrofoam refers to another material that is usually white in color and made of expanded (not extruded) polystyrene foam (EPS). It is often used in disposable coffee cups and coolers, and as cushioning material in packaging.[1] The term is used generically although it is a different material from the extruded polystyrene used for Styrofoam insulation.

EPS-eating worms[edit]

In 2015, researchers discovered that mealworms, the larvae form of the darkling beetle Tenebrio molitor, could digest and subsist healthily on a diet of EPS, commonly referred to as “Styrofoam” colloquially.[14] About 100 mealworms could consume between 34 and 39 milligrams of this white foam in a day. The droppings of mealworm were found to be safe for use as soil for crops.[14] Superworms (Zophobas morio) are also reported to eat EPS.[15]

Air Pollution

Air pollution occurs when harmful or excessive quantities of substances including gases, particulates, and biological molecules are introduced into Earth’s atmosphere.

Smog hanging over cities is the most familiar and obvious form of air pollution. But there are different kinds of pollution—some visible, some invisible—that contribute to global warming. Generally any substance that people introduce into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution.

______________

I WILL ONLY BE DISCUSSING THE USA TODAY

 

Why is this a Spiritual Issue?

What has garbage to do with our walk with God?

 

ONE ANSWER

Genesis 1   PANENTHEISM  Panentheism where all is in God;   God/Universe are separate

 

God entrusted the care of creation to us

Plants    animals    air   water  earth

And let them have dominion over…” 

ANOTHER ANSWER

Pantheism

Pantheism is the belief God and the universe can be equated; that God is the universe.

God is spiritual/divine                                                                                      Universe is spiritual/divine

 

What we do to the least of these…

Remember that from last week’s                  discussion of Immigration –

 

Loving one another

However we treat one another is                         how we treat God

 

 

Pantheism –

believing that God/Universe are the same

means that “What we do to the least of these…”

What ever way we treat the world… we are doing that to God

 

 

Genesis story

God created – said it was good

Then God entrusted the care of creation to humankind… telling humans

fill the earth and subdue (calm, placate, soften, mollify) it; and have dominion (control, authority, domination, power, rule)

HOW are we doing?

Let’s take a look….

Americans generate about 258 million tons of MSW MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTE –                                           or MANMADE SOLID WASTE annually,

53% is deposited in landfills                                      Currently, 34.6% of MSW is recycled

and 12.8% is combusted for energy production. https://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/cat-item/solid-waste/

Anyhow, take a look.

4.4 pounds:                                            The amount of trash generated daily, on average, by every American. Packed in cubed feet it would be the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

254 million tons:                                     The amount of trash that Americans       generate in a year.

 

22 billion: Plastic bottles thrown out yearly.

 

12 feet: The height of a wall from Los Angeles            to New York City that could be made              from tossed office paper every year.

 

300: Laps around the equator that could be         made in paper and plastic cups, forks,     and spoons disposed of annually.

 

2,000+: The number of active landfills in the country.

 

1000s: The number of inactive landfills in the country.

 

38.4 tons: the amount of garbage per person in Las Vegas landfills.

10 tons, or less:                                      The amount of landfill waste per person            in Idaho, North Dakota, and Connecticut.

https://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/trash-numbers-startling-statistics-about-americans-and-their-garbage.html

$19:

The cost per ton that Alabama       charges to take another state’s trash.

3.4 million tons:

The amount of out-of-state waste   taken by Ohio each year at the cost  of $35 per ton.

32 percent:                                                           The amount of Ohio’s out-of-state                   trash that came from New York.

34.3 percent:

The amount of garbage that   Americans are now recycling yearly.

Recycling and composting prevented      87.2 million tons of material from being disposed in 2013, up from 15 million tons in 1980.

 

And let them have dominion over…”

 DOMINION                                      

Bible Translations  Many use Dominion

  • CHRISTIAN Standard Bible – RULE
  • Living Bible – MASTER
  • Message – Responsibility
  • Good News – POWER

These words have been a struggle for people of faith to understand their role in creation…

 DOMINION     – definitions include

Power, control, rule, control, superiority…

And that is how the church has interpreted DOMINION – and taught this lesson of scripture

— control and power

Sadly, we were not taught that when God gave us dominion over all God created… the God probably believed in human goodness and entrusted us to care for the rest of creation.

I think God’s intention was for humanity to CARE for the rest of creation…

To be responsible for

 to be in partnership with creation…

Protect preserve serve and love…

Scripture also uses the term SUBDUE –

 

____

HUMANS view the rest of creation as lower on the ladder of importance..

Thus, we have not protected God’s creation….

Water – became a place to dump waste

Air – carried away the dirt/toxins from our fires and incinerators

Land – raped for its many resources… gas, coal, minerals, oil, etc.

ANIMALS –    meat eating – followed flood

Scripturally – Genesis 9: 3- Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.

Struggle with eating meat –

Was not original intention at creation

Animal Abuse –

Not seeing animals as living creatures

Abuse – scientific testing – neglect –

DOMINION — NOT DOMINATION

SUBDUE                                                          (calm, placate, soften, mollify)

to care – show compassion – protect

we were called to care for all that God   brought into reality…

and remember the Bible stories in which God revealed God’s self THROUGH creation…

Burning bush

Parting of the sea

Nourishment from heaven/sky

 

IF we understand God as ONE wth nature/creation, us, the universe –

then when we refrain from waste, reuse what we can, recycle what we can’t and create with materials that eventually return to nature…

Aren’t we also caring for God?

 

 

 

Communion Meditation

Jesus followed this theme of ONE WITH CREATION –

This bread and cup are my body and blood –

AS we share this meal, remember we are all one in the Spirit, in the Universe and in Creation.