How welcome are you? What's your hospitality like?
We love a good party here at St Mary’s. The Parish Dinner at the Golf Club in January, the Parish BBQ in June, Coffee Mornings each month, a Fellowship Christmas lunch and a summer picnic. Not to mention coffee before the monthly concerts, coffee after services and many other events squeezed in at every opportunity. Yes we love a good party here at St Mary’s and we welcome others to join us whenever that is possible. What has that to do with our gospel reading this morning? Well let’s have a look.
When Jesus comes to the end of His message to the disciples and after warning them repeatedly of the trouble they could expect, Jesus does what any good leader should do, He answers the question, “What's the reward for living like this?” because following Jesus will not win us any prizes or praise from the world. If because of Your Christian faith you take a stand on any moral issue, you may lose your job, you may be sued, and you will certainly be attacked on social media. But can I just say this morning that it’s Worth It To Follow Jesus! Here in these verses Jesus makes three promises to those who follow Him.
First, We will connect people with God. We need only to look at the number of people joining us online with our weekly service, far more than our regular congregation, and we welcome them all. It works like this.
First, people welcome us virtually into their homes and onto their device. Second, by welcoming us, they welcome Jesus. Third, by welcoming Jesus, they welcome the Heavenly Father. This verse plainly tells us that the way to the Father is through the Son. Jesus said in John’s gospel, “Those who hate Me, also hate My Father.” When we share the Gospel we are connecting people with God. We are preaching the one and only message that leads to heaven.
Secondly, We will become A Source of Blessings to Others. Just look at what has been going on in the world since the beginning of the pandemic. Food offered to strangers, thanking frontline workers, applauding the NHS and so much more.
But for those of us who are stuck at home unable to physically get involved. Here is an amazing promise Jesus makes Those who stand and wait behind the scenes, in the shadows will receive the same rewards as that man or woman who receives all the public notice and recognition. You see, nothing great is ever done alone. Those who wait, serve, answer emails, clean, mow the grass, prepare meals, call to encourage and pray with others, and open their hearts and bank accounts, they too are recognized by Jesus. Those who serve alongside will win rewards. Then we see a stunning final promise:
Third, We will be remembered for the tiniest acts of kindness.
Looking first at the giver in verse 42, “And whoever” meaning there are no limits to this promise. Do you have a cup of cold water? Then you’re qualified.
Next look at the recipient “One of these little ones” Jesus is talking about the least among His followers. O how Jesus sees and is aware of our concerns for people the world cannot see at all.
Then, look at the action “Give a cup of cold water.” It’s simple, inexpensive, often unseen, and it requires very little preparation.
Finally, look at the certainty of the reward “Truly I say to you” or I assure you, it is we who are called to be faithful in doing whatever God gives us to do.
There will be many chances, some big, some small, for us to do good and show kindness to others around us. You see, Jesus sees and knows what we have said or done and He takes note as if we have done it to Him personally. What matters to Jesus are the things we often can’t even remember; A friendly hello, delivering food or medicine, sharing a prayer over the phone, giving a word of encouragement, or a virtual hospital visit, a pat on the back, or a card sent to encourage someone. You see, it’s God first, others second, and us last. That’s the St Mary’s way.
So yes, we at St Mary’s love a party, but we always have an eye for those who cannot enjoy what we have to share in fellowship. When we cannot help in person, we love our neighbour in the food we offer to the Food Bank, the toys we give away at Christmas, the charities we support with Christmas collections, the prayers and support from us all and the many other ways we support those in need.
Then when we have done all those things, to share what we have been given, then we share a welcome. Come in, welcome, join us as we worship the one we serve. Amen.
The Rev'd Maureen Lunn, St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, 28/06/2020