November 19th, 2017 - The Rev. Sarah Quinney
A Sermon on Matthew 25:14-30 - Read the Gospel here
What has God given to you? What has God given to me?
Personally, I have a lot. And if everything is of God and comes from God then God has given me a lot.
I live in America. Let me be more specific, I was born in America. I have a great education. I have always had plenty to eat and drink, never without shelter, rarely feared for my life. I have always had health care and the ability to take care of my illnesses and get the surgeries I have needed. I take vacations. I never worry about getting back into this country. I play musical instruments and own them. I can buy gifts for people. I can donate my money. I am not afraid of the police. I do not fear being out in public. I have a car that runs well. I’ve never been to jail or prison, even to visit. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends. If anything were to happen to cause me to lose my home, I have several family members and friends who can take me in and help support me until I got on my feet. If one day I were to lose my job in the church, I have another career I can go to. I was raised in the Episcopal Church and always had a wonderful community of faith supporting me. I have a Masters in Divinity. I am a priest and a preacher. I have a platform every week and for the most part people listen to me.
I have been given a lot. A lot of privilege. A lot of power. The ability to influence and be heard.
These are talents that I must not bury. God has given them to me to use. To use to help our human family be the human family.
If I hoard these talents and don’t use them for God’s purposes, I won’t need God to throw me into a pit where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’ll do that to myself. When our lives are not serving God, and serving the needs of our sisters and brothers, for me, I am living in this outer darkness and struggling to find the light.
This weekend, some of us, drove over to Stockton, to The University of the Pacific to hear some speakers. Our Presiding Bishop was there, the Bishop of San Joaquin was there and we all listened to people share the story of their life and the struggle and the heart ache and the fear.
Before we heard from them. The Bishop of San Joaquin, David Rice told us a story. He was driving to a meeting and he saw a homeless person on the street. He gave what loose change he had to this person. And felt strongly they were all one human family, this was his sister in Christ, but then a deeper connection struck him. No this isn’t a sister. This was him. He is that person. We are all one human family. When I see you, I see me?
I could be that person. In an instant, I could be the person with 10 talents, with 5 or with one.
There is no difference between us. And if I can look in the eyes of the woman, pushing all of her possessions in a shopping cart down the street, dirty, cold, and hungry and see my own mother, I will do everything in my power, using all my talents God gave me to help that woman.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
This is no slight to his mother, but to point us to the truth, that God made us all one human family and we are to see one another as our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We are to care for all just as we care for our own mother, father, brother and sister.
Jesus left us to do the work. Jesus began the work, showed us how and taught us how to do it and now it is up to us to use our talents to make God’s kingdom, the dream God has for the world the reality for our human family.
In our Baptismal Covenant, we make promises that with God’s help we will be the hands and feet of Christ in our neighborhood, in our place of work, in our homes, in our town, in the store, at church, at school, with our family and our friends. We will be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
I will, with God's help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
I will, with God's help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, black, white, Latino, native American, Asian, bi racial, documented immigrant, undocumented immigrant, gay, straight, transgender, married, single, young, old, disabled, differently abled, neighbors who speak English, speak Spanish and any other language, Muslims, Jews, people with turbans or a hijab, obese and skinny, wealthy and poor, homeless, libertarians, democrats, republicans, independents, and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will with God’s help.
I am not standing here to say that this is easy. It is supposed to be easy. But fear gets in the way. The good news is that with God’s help we can do it! We can overcome our fears to learn to love every single person on this earth. Every mother, father, brother and sister God has created.
We must use the position we have, the influence we have to be the voice for those who are not listened to, not heard, yet. We must spread this gospel, this good news that we can be one human family united by God’s love and grace to those who do not believe this world can be healed.
We must meet the needs of our neighbors seeing Christ is all people and work for their freedoms, livelihood, joy and peace.
What does that look like? It is creating a safe space for those in fear. When a young mother is afraid to go to a store for fear of being separated from her children and deported, it is opening the kitchen in our office, making a grocery store for her to go to without fear. It is giving those in fear of going hungry, not having a special meal for their family during holidays, fear of not having money for a single present, fear of being homeless again, fear of eviction, fear that their children will lose their status as citizens, fear of not knowing the language spoken around you. It is making a safe place for our sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers to be fed, nourished, loved, to play and learn.
After this service, we will pack 30 Thanksgiving Dinners that will nourish the bodies and spirits of nearly 200 of our family in our neighborhood. We are acting out God’s will.
This week, next week and for years to come our doors will remain open, we are that safe space to be loved and fed. We’ve got more talents. Let us not bury them. Let us not hoard them for ourselves. I wonder, how else we can use what God has given us work for justice and peace, liberty and freedom for our whole human family in this neighborhood, in Lincoln, in California, in America and in the world.
We give and use what we have, no matter how little or how big and let God do the rest. It only took 5 loaves and 2 fish for Jesus to feed over 5,000. Think then of what He will do with what you have if you give it. Amen.