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November 22, 2020 Sermon: Laser-Focus

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25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.25:32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,25:33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.25:34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;25:35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,25:36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?25:38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?25:39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'25:40 And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'25:41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;25:42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,25:43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'25:44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?'25:45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'25:46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

  • Christ the King Sunday comes as the last Sunday of our liturgical year.
    • Next Sunday begins Advent
    • We might rather move to Thanksgiving or to next Sunday, but instead, we're asked to have one last week to review and recollect.
  • How do you, in one sermon, one conversation, one moment, do enough justice to 2020? Especially for S Jax
    • You came into this year with tumult. And it is a difficult kind to be sure. Losing a pastor so quickly will create some chaos
    • You started and made difficult decisions on buildings.
    • And all of this was done under the backdrop of COVID-19. We've all weathered rearrangments, lifestyle upheaval.
    • Did I really want to know who Carole Baskin was? If knowing Carole Baskin was worth it so I could meet Beth Harmon, then I figure it might have been worth everything.
  • I remember when this all started, people would say to me that they hoped that this would help us all get to the heart of what really mattered, and that seemed to mean different things for different people, but often meant something about family, about simplicity, about escaping the trappings of the things that bound us up before this year.
    • Here, in this text, we're given the thing that seems to matter most. This is literally exsistential. And important enough that is stated twice - in the positive and in the negative. You did these things, and you didn't do these things.
      • Five things
        • Satiate hunger
        • Quench Thirst
        • Clothe nakedness
        • Tend to sickness
        • Comfort the imprisoned
      • Each of these seem to hint at two incredibly important things
        • Providing care - at the core is either a physical or spiritual need (without reservation), and it is met where they are.
        • Providing dignity - Because it's met where they are, and how they need (without reservation, it seems) there is dignity here. People are not looked as a cases or numbers, but as people. UCOM and "friends," not "clients."
    • This is the final chapter of the story. The distilled storyline. If we wanted to know what this year and the next and the next are heading towards, this would be a good place to discern. This is about a simple as it gets. This is what Jesus ultimately cares about for this world.
  • The question that remains for us, is if we want to take this as the end story, what do we do about it?
    • Our thinking can be reorganized.
      • Less about the means and more about the end.
      • It's important here, too, to note that these means are diverse as the people here. Too often the end here could be confused as "socialism," which is bad politics thrown on good theology. So some folks might think the means include the work of the state and church as institutions, and some won't. That doesn't change the goal.
      • Pastors, buildings, pandemics - what is happening that they enable us provide care and dignity to those who aren't likely to receive it? Which, at times, is all of us, but never just us.
      • What if we were laser-focused in the next year on committing ourselves as South Jax to saying this is what we do, and letting ourselves learn together the how? Would you feelings on what we should do with the resources coming change? Would your feelings about the buildings change?
      • What if we had to suspend being here together in the next six weeks? Would that change our ability to care and provide dignity? Or would we be creative and innovative?
    • We really could be free. We could be telling the story of heaven. We could be bringing healing and life to folks who have given up.

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