Summary: A sermon about loving Christ by loving others.
"The Hokey Pokey Is Not What It's All About"
One morning I was walking the dog in our neighborhood when a neighbor walked up to talk.
I hadn't been feeling very good that morning.
I can't remember exactly what was bothering me, nor can I remember our conversation verbatim.
But I do remember that we were "being human together."
He's a missionary who spent most of his life as a director of missions in Africa.
And now that he's back in the United States he feels a bit "out of place."
Serving people in the name of Christ is difficult for him in this country, whereas for me, it seems to come more naturally.
As we talked and shared that morning, I was lifted out of the funk I was in; he was lifted out of his.
Then we said our good-byes and went about our days.
I returned home feeling pretty good and ready to face the day.
I had left home in a very different frame of mind.
We never know what other people might be going through, do we?
We don't know what the cashier at Walmart might be facing at the moment they are checking us out at the cash register.
Perhaps they are grieving a loss.
Maybe they have been unable to pay all their bills this month and don't know how they are going to keep a roof over their head.
Maybe they are contemplating suicide.
A kind gesture.
A smile of affirmation.
A friendly word--human being to human being--may completely change their day.
It could save their life.
Or what about the teenager who looks sad and rebellious?
What is he or she dealing with?
What questioning, or bullying are they having to endure?
What insecurities are they battling?
How can we treat them in a way that is loving and affirming rather than judging and hurtful?
Owen has an awesome Day Care "teacher" I guess you would call her.
Nice, nice lady.
Anyhow, one day last week I took Owen into Day Care and set him on the floor in front of a box of toys.
The first thing he pulled out of the box was a basketball.
At this, his daycare worker said, "I used to play basketball at my church.
Do you all have a basketball team at your church?"
"No," I replied, "but we do have hoops."
I asked her which church she used to play basketball at and she told me.
"Went there for 30 years," she said.
"I was involved in everything."
I said, "Do you still go there?"
She answered, "No. I don't go to church anywhere anymore."
"Why?" I asked.
Her response was, "Well...something happened."
As I was leaving, Owen had put down the basketball and was now holding a pink plate.
Then I jokingly said, "Can you imagine if I came up to Owen and: 'You can't play with that pink plate; you are a boy. You must play with this green plate?'"
She laughed and asked, "Oh, so you won't mind if you come in and find Owen wearing a pink bib then?"
I go, No. Doesn't bother me a bit."
Then she got real serious.
Knowing I'm a pastor she said, "Thank you."
"What for?" I asked.
"I have gay children," she said.
"Both my children are gay."
Mother Teresa is quoted as having said: "Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
We human beings have a real hunger, do we not?
We hunger for food.
We hunger for love.
We hunger for belonging.
We hunger for employment.
We hunger for hope.
Most of all, I think, we hunger for God.
Sadly, we--the church--sometimes get in the way of satisfying the hunger in others...and that's because we are human--we aren't doing it on purpose.
But I think this makes God sad.
Because anything that hurts others, hurts God.
If it makes people weep--Jesus weeps.
Jesus said, "Whatever you did or didn't do for the least of these, you did or didn't do these things for me."
I love it in 2 Corinthians 2 where Paul
writes: "if someone has made anyone sad...you should try your best...to comfort this person, so that this person isn't overwhelmed by too much sorrow.
So I encourage you to show love for this person."
Jesus is sad when we are sad.
Jesus is hurt when we hurt others.
Jesus rejoices when we rejoice.
God is on our side.
God loves humankind.
And we are called to love one another.
As Austin read from 1 Corinthians 12 earlier: We--that's you and me-- "are the body of Christ."
That's right, we face a staggering but exciting challenge.
We must be the hands of Christ in this world.