Sermon – November 9, 2014
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
22nd Sunday after Pentecost Year A Proper 27 Track 1
Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13
Please be seated.
Recently, I was looking through some old photographs. Yes, actual photographs. Unfortunately, I was not a good cataloguer of my photos. I didn’t always write the date on them and I didn’t put them in albums in chronological order and many times, I got duplicate photos then stuck them in different albums! I’m so grateful that we now have online archives of digital photos and computers that somehow know when the photos were taken!
So, I was looking through album after album, remembering the process of taking the photos, using up the roll of film, taking it to be developed, maybe even to a 1-hour processor, and then getting them back, and finally seeing if they were any good or not.
Then I saw it. I had forgotten I took the photos of the event, but it is seared in my mind as a place and time when I got a glimpse of the Kingdom of God here on earth. It is a photo of a diverse group of people…diverse in culture, gender orientation and age. We are sitting around some tables having dinner and conversation and plenty of fun.
I looked closely at the photo from the early 1990s. I did know most of the people and am still in touch with many of them. But some have died. I couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant, although I remember a lot about the owner, whose name I’ve also forgotten. I didn’t even remember what time of year it was or why we were there. But I clearly remembered it as a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.
Why is that? Because there were so many things in that group that could have divided us…could have kept us separate. Things like race, culture, class, age, sexual orientation. Yet, we were together and having fun and so grateful for our friendship. I just knew and know the Kingdom God is like that.
In today’s readings, we are asked first of all in Joshua, to choose the God we will serve. Last week I asked you what makes you cling to Jesus, despite the challenges of being a Christian. Now this week, you are asked to be clear about whether you will serve God or whether you will serve other things in your life that you think are God? Will you serve your own pride and ego? Will you serve money? Will you serve property? Or will you serve the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca…the God whose Son, Jesus Christ came to live and die as one of us?
If you will serve the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, the Father of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, then in the Gospel of Matthew you are told to “Be Prepared” for the coming of the Kingdom of God! Those of you who were members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will remember those words!
Always be prepared. Always be prepared for the Kingdom of God! So how do we prepare for the Kingdom of God that we’ve never seen? Jesus did give us some hints. The Kingdom of God will be filled with all kinds of people, especially those we least expect. Remember Jesus found that the outcasts of his day…the marginalized of his day…the tax collectors, the women, the prostitutes, the Gentiles…were the very ones who believed in him…believed in his message…and changed how they lived their lives. Having oil in our lamps…Being prepared and awake…means that we look around us and see how our relationship is with those people today who are marginalized or on the fringes. Does our church look like the Kingdom of God because all people are active members of our body?
Jesus said we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. So at the heart of the Kingdom of God is love. Do we love ourselves? Do we forgive ourselves? Do we learn from our mistakes, ask forgiveness and move on? Or are we constantly abusing ourselves? Having oil in our lamps means that we love ourselves, faults and all.
And what about our neighbor? Are we judgmental, rather than using good judgment? Do we work so that all of our neighbors have what they need to live a good life or are we just concerned with ourselves and our family? Having oil in our lamps means that we love our neighbors.
So, choose this day whom you will serve, and then Be Prepared…keep awake…have enough oil in your lamps, because the Kingdom of God is amazing and you won’t want to miss it!