Monday, November 27, 2017

When Did You See Jesus?

Yesterday, we read the passage from Matthew 25:31-46 (read it here: search=MAtthew+25%3A31-46&version=NRSV).

Jesus tells his disciples: “When you feed a hungry person, give clothes to someone who has none, visit someone in prison or welcome a stranger, you are doing all of that for me.”

That’s how we get to meet Jesus: in the faces of those we serve. In the relationships we build with people who push us outside our comfort zone.

Jesus is giving examples, not a complete list of people that we get to meet him through. As a conclusion, he calls them “the least of these who are members of my family.”

And it made me think: Who is the least person in my eyes? Who is the last person I want to have to face? Someone who hurt or disappointed me? Someone who has political and moral views that are completely opposite to mine? Someone who gets under my skin or makes my blood boil? Someone who scares me because their mental or emotional state makes them unpredictable?

Each and every one of them is an opportunity for me to meet Jesus, and to grow in my faith.

How about you? Who is the least or the last person that you want to face and have a conversation with?

They are a chance for you to meet Jesus. They need you, and you need them.

As we are about to begin the season of Advent, actively welcoming Jesus into our lives, let’s keep an eye out for him.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Why and How

At a meeting last week we discussed what the “WHY” of Trinity Church was. Research shows that most businesses and organizations focus on “what” they do and “how.” What people really want to know is “why.”

The same applies to churches. Why do we do what we do?

Most of the answers given revolved around God’s love: We do what we do because we believe God loves us, and all people, and we want to share that love by making life better for people living in our community, by showing compassion and seeking justice.

That’s our “WHY.” Here is one of our “how”s:

On Saturday, we held a Dinner for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, to honor the lives lost to murder and suicide this past year (24 in the U.S. alone), and to educate ourselves about the struggles of transgender people in order to better minister to them.

More and more people are finding the courage to come out, and live into who they really are rather than who society thinks they should be.

One of those brave individuals is Rhon, whom our Trinity community used to know as Rhonda. Rhon painted the transgender flag shown in the photo below, as a gift to us, and a tribute to the courage of those who were born with a biological sex they do not identify with.

Most of us cannot imagine the pain they go through. Our speaker, Taj Smith, said it bluntly: “I came to a point where I either had to change my life, or end it.” He chose life. Many others, often teenagers, cannot bear the pain and choose to end it.

We want to show all of God’s children that they are loved for who they are. That God created them beautifully. One quote we heard in the film we watched was “God does not make mistakes. God created me transgender.”

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I invite you to give thanks for who God created you to be. Give thanks for the people who love and accept you as you are. And give thanks for those who are different from you, whom you may have difficulty relating to. They, too, represent the love and beauty of God.

If you would like to learn more, please refer to the following websites:

You may also want to watch the film we viewed: “Voices of Witness – Out of the Box” v=QzCANWGsEdc&t=16s

Monday, November 13, 2017

Whom Jesus Is Sending, and Where

During my sermon yesterday, we had a conversation about Matthew 9:35 – 10:23. (Read the passage here: search=Matthew+9%3A35-10%3A1%2C+10%3A5-23&version=NRSV)

Jesus had compassion for the crowds because they were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’”

We agreed that the “harvest” is the work of God, God is the “lord” of that harvest, and we are the “laborers”. But we need more people to do the work.

In the next sentence, Jesus “summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority.” A few verses later, Jesus tells them to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of God has come near, to cure the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons.

We then talked about what “diseases” we, as his present-day disciples, need to cure. Surely, not physical diseases?

We came up with quite a list:

Poverty, hate, addiction, bias, racism, mental health issues, hopelessness, helplessness, loneliness, emptiness, stress, anxiety. Injustice. Violence. Fixation on material things and appearance.

What qualifies us, little old me and you, to cure those?

My personal opinion: Because we suffer from them (or some of them) ourselves, or have at one point in our lives. We are all “harassed and helpless”, and that’s what qualifies us to reach out to others who are.

Our lives aren’t easier because we have Jesus. None of us are immune to feeling hopeless, helpless, clueless or even worthless. We’ve all been there.

I’m not saying we can cure that for anyone else. But I am saying we can be there with them. We can offer hope and help, support and a sense of being worthy.

The harvest is plentiful. The work of God is a big job! But “harvest” implies there is something to gain. The work of God will bear fruit. And you and I get to be a part of that. We get to see it happen, we get to make it happen, and we get to enjoy the fruit: The unconditional, undying love of God.