November 18 Blog Post
“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…” -- Matthew 25:45
I think about Jesus a lot. No big surprise, I suppose, I’m a minister. There are things I wonder about his life. Did Jesus have a dog? Did he enjoy games? Was he athletic? What made Jesus laugh? Which of his close friends did he trust with his struggles and worries?
As Thanksgiving approaches, I wonder what he ate besides bread and fish and wine. I suspect Jesus enjoyed a Mediterranean diet of figs and grapes and apricots, goat cheese and yogurt and curds. When Jesus broke bread and blessed it and shared it with his friends, for what was he most grateful?
We have hints about this of course. Jesus expressed gratitude for those who engaged authentic questions of faith. He honored those who trusted God for healing and noticed those who forgave others even when it was hard. He looked for Godly people made visible by their behavior, and pointed them out to the disciples. “The Kingdom of God looks like this”, he said, and then helped them see the one who gave even a cup of cold water to the thirsty, the one who fed the hungry and homeless at their gate, the one who had compassion on the imprisoned, and the one who gave all they had as an offering of their life to God.
Jesus was always saying really hard things. I’m sure the disciples must have felt like saying, “Stop talking like that Jesus. You’re going to get all of us in trouble.” At the end of Matthew 25 for example, Jesus could have stopped talking with the words in verse 40, “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.” Those who heard him could easily imagine themselves as the faithful ones, who did the right things and took care of each other. This parable inspires us. It motivates us to cook for one another when sick, to volunteer for stuff that needs to be done, and to pay attention to the needs of our neighbor. We’re all over that.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He carried on and on about the consequences of having the chance to do the right thing or to say the right thing and then to miss it. He communicated in no uncertain terms that we are accountable for the opportunities we have to live as kingdom people, and then we blow it.
If you want to love me, Jesus might have said, you’ve got to be generous in your treatment of one another. Love one another, serve one another, treat one another with dignity and respect as a beloved child of God. Stop demanding that somebody else make you happy and start figuring out how to make God happy. Treat one another as you would treat me as a guest in your home for Thanksgiving dinner. And then it will be true: “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
Prayer: As we gather at our tables of thanks giving in the week to come, reveal to us every opportunity to be truly generous in our treatment of one another, as if it were you. In just such a way as this, come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let our gifts to you be blessed. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace,
Dr. Anna V. Copeland