Sunday Gathered Worship Lesson, January 8, 2017
By Elizabeth Dede
When I lived at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, we practiced Liberation Theology, studied the Bible from the point of view of the poor, and saw Jesus in the homeless and imprisoned among us.
One of our favorite stories came from the early days of the Sojourners Community, which Jim Wallis tells: “One of our first activities was to find every verse of scripture about the poor, wealth and poverty, and social justice. We found more than 2,000 texts that we then cut out of an old Bible. We were left with a Bible full of holes, [a hole-ly Bible], which I used to take out with me to preach.”
One evening, Ed Loring and Ron Jackson went to a speaking engagement in Buckhead, a well-to-do neighborhood of Atlanta. They were speaking to a rather wealthy group about seeing Jesus in the poor, when Ron proclaimed, “You won’t find Jesus in Buckhead.” Of course, this disturbed the group. Isn’t Jesus among all of his believers, even those who have access to goods?
In addition, the Open Door, and so many other non-profits, including Koinonia Farm, depend on those very people to survive in this world and to do our ministry.
Nevertheless, we do know of God’s preferential option for the poor. Mary sings it in her song: “He has put down the mighty from their throne and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.”
However, today’s Gospel lesson helps us to understand that Jesus came for everyone, even the rich. You see, these wise men from afar were not poor. They came with expensive gifts. Traditionally, we call them kings, although they probably weren’t. Also, they were not part of God’s chosen family. They were not the children of Israel, yet this star of wonder appeared to them, and they came to bow down to Jesus.
The invitation is made to everyone—the poor shepherds, the rich kings, even King Herod is told of the baby Jesus.
And so this message also comes to us. We live a blessed life here at Koinonia with more than enough to share. Let us offer our thanks and praise to God for the gift of Jesus. Let us offer our thanks and praise to Jesus for the gift of his salvation that comes to all of us—rich and poor alike. Let us offer our thanks and praise for the gift of life together, full of so many good blessings.