This Sunday we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism.
The Scripture Reading this Sunday is Matthew 25:31-46.
The Sermon title is When Did We...?
Early Thoughts: It is an honest question. They have just been told they did something they have no recollection of doing. "When did we do that?" they ask.
The surprise is in the answer -- when you served the least of my family, you served me.
But I think the best part is that the people did not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or visit the lonely in order to serve God. They did it, I think, because that was just how they lived as people of faith. They did it because they took seriously the commandment to live lives of love. As one commentator points out, the questions asked by the blessed and the accursed are exactly the same. The difference is that the blessed aren't seeking to be rewarded, where the accursed appear to be trying to figure out how they can get the reward next time.....
There is an ancient blessing: "May you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet. And may everyone you meet see the face of Christ in you". I think this happens when we live out the parable of the sheep and the goats. Or maybe we live out the parable when we intentionally try to match the blessing. It is sometimes a chicken vs. egg type of thing.
This is not about serving our friends and family. It is not about serving those who are "like us". It is not about building up favour debt that we can call and get repaid. This is about love. This is about serving to meet the needs that show up in our path just because they are there. This, Matthew suggests, is what it means to live in Kingdom ethics.
So the question for us is indeed "When did we...". The challenge for us is to know whether we are asking when we met needs or asking when we failed to meet needs. Not because we expect or hope to rewarded. Nor to avoid some sort of punishment. Simply because the law of love has been written on our hearts and thereby has changed who we are. Once so changed, we meet needs because we can.
May God help us to be so changed.