Sunday, July 2, 2017
Gathered Worship Lesson, Matthew 10:37-42
By Elizabeth Dede
Just in case you haven’t noticed, it is really hot in Georgia right now. So what does that have to do with today’s Gospel lesson?
When I lived at the Open Door Community, we constantly faced the suffering of homeless people and the city of Atlanta’s indifference to it. In those days, there was one public water fountain in the whole city, and there were no public toilets. Most shops and businesses had taken the handles off their outdoor water spigots, and no homeless person was welcome to come inside to use the restroom. It was a hard life for people without homes in that city.
In protest of those conditions, and even though it made our neighbors angry, we had two water fountains (one inside, and one outside), lots of public toilets (both inside and outside), and a water spigot outside. There was plenty of water available to the poorest of the poor at our house.
Elsewhere in the Gospel of Matthew, we’re told that to give a drink to the thirsty is to give a drink to Jesus. Here at Koinonia, we, too, give a drink to the thirsty.
We serve each other by putting food and drink on the table every day. And often we serve a stranger that way. Matthew also wrote that to welcome a stranger into your home is to welcome Jesus. Providing for the physical needs of people is clearly a Gospel call, and it brings us into relationship with Jesus.
From this Gospel reading, we learn that this relationship with Jesus is more important than any other relationship we can have. We have to love Jesus more than our mothers and fathers, more than our daughters and sons.
I think Matthew tells us pretty clearly how to love Jesus. But it isn’t easy to lose your life.
I’ve just got back to Koinonia from a trip to visit my mom and dad. For a long time, while I lived at the Open Door, I neglected my relationship with my mom and dad. I felt strongly called to serve the physically poor, and I truly believed that meant that I, in the strong words of Jesus, had to hate my mother and father. I didn’t actually hate them, but I didn’t pay much attention to them either. I felt that giving up my old life and ideas of how I should live it was finding my life in Jesus. And I suppose that for that time in my life it was true.
On this visit to Florida, though, I found myself regretting that neglect. Those years while I was at the Open Door were probably my mom and dad’s best years. They were still relatively young and full of energy, and they were mostly free of the weight of caring for children. Now I wish that I had not been so focused on a literal understanding of Matthew 25. I wish that I had enjoyed my Mom and Dad more.
But I don’t want to wallow in regret. Now that they are old, I can care for them, and lose my life in that. It is in those relationships with my mom and dad that I find my life in Jesus.
So give a drink of cold water to a child of Jesus. You will find your life.