Today we intentionally remember that Jesus the Christ was born the King of kings, the one and true King of us all.
Jesus the King shall one day return and he will separate people for eternity based on what people have done or not done for the least of these among us.
Forget what you’ve ever heard spoken against works righteousness- certainly salvation comes by grace through faith- but faith without works is not only dead but leads to hell.
Jesus is very clear, those who are deemed sheep of his own fold are those who seek to help the least of these to the best of their ability.
John Wesley took this to the max and yet with grace when he issued these instructions to the Methodists; “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
It’s very clear the incredibly high degree that Wesley calls us to help, it’s also clear that each admonition comes with the grace of the word- “can”. Do all you “can”, which means to the degree and number of times that you are able.
To me John Wesley takes Jesus’ greatest love command, that we all love God with our all and love our neighbor as ourselves, and Wesley an intense student of Jesus’ total teaching- translates the heart portion to an action verb- to go and do as much as you can.
Love- both the feeling and the action matter.
James asks a question about all of this, “How can we say peace, peace to anyone in Jesus’ name before we offer them food for their stomach?
I am convinced in my heart and mind that when we look to all the commands of Jesus we can be very overwhelmed if we think that it is all on our shoulders.
We see the text today, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and welcome the stranger. We see other texts about loving God and neighbor and self. We see texts on giving the whole tithe, on doing miracles even greater than Jesus did and we can begin to think, how can we? Well frankly we can’t. On our own we can do nothing- apart from the vine, we the branches can do nothing, but connected we can do all things with God.
I make no apologies that lately all my preaching, all my writings, all come back to the foundation, each one of us and the whole Body of Christ, needs to work on our connection as a branch to vine, the connection of us to Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit and the Means of Grace.
We have choices, we can be overwhelmed and thus not try, we can try on our own and face burnout, or we can seek the hand of Jesus daily and find that there are no limits for this church where love reigns.
One strategy for some is to begin slowly and count on God to help us find our pace, our path, our way. A little like getting into a lake that is cold, some begin with one toe at a time.
For others, immersion, taking the big plunge with both feet is the way. And still for others the best approach may be to just keep coming, keep an open mind, allow the Spirit to help you conclude your way for this time in your life.
Jesus also speaks about not losing a single person. So, here is this new pastor coming into Trinity and offering a vision of intentional discipleship, a vision of growing closer to God, closer to each other and closer to our neighbor, and a vision of a baseball diamond like method that allows each one to find clear pathways.
So, I come and offer all of this to a church with centuries of prior life together, centuries of doing great things for God and neighbor and for some this may seem too much or out of line- and there is where losing not even one- comes in.
I pray no one will feel that there is some ultimatum being laid down by me, I don’t do that, it is not my place.
Ultimatums are only for the king to lay down. Today the King of kings has laid one down- serve the least of these or else. As for me, I simply offer the best I know from the Bible and our tradition and from reason and experience, offering the best that I see, all to help each one of us end up in the Joy of Jesus now and forever.
No joy on earth can ever exceed the joy of each one offering what God is asking from us.
The timing and the means is a decision best left with God and each person, as for me I will continue to offer what I know I am being asked to share with us all.