When the church has been stolen by the religious right it is no longer the place of love that Jesus created. If you feel stolen is too strong a word, I will settle for co-opted.
Many who Jesus died for, and loves the most, are being mocked, excluded, vilified, and intentionally made to feel unwanted and unwelcome. This has to break God’s heart.
When the least of these are not welcome, Jesus is being excluded as well. When we close our doors to them, we close our door to God.
The gulf between the poor (the marginalized, the hungry, the stranger, the immigrant, those who are different than us in any way) and us is actually the gulf between us and God. It’s time to help Jesus get His church back. It’s supposed to be a place of love and acceptance, not a place of hate.
Again we come to your throne of grace, gracious Lord, recognizing that your presence is everywhere. This morning we bow before you in humble recognition of your power, your glory, and your everlasting love.
Be with us throughout this day. Make it truly a day of rest and worship. Help us to fully be engaged with pleasing you with our praise, our prayers and our service in your name.
Help us to intentionally seek out your presence in all we meet today, but especially in the face of the stranger, the homeless, the sick, and those trapped in destructive lifestyles. Help us to reflect your grace to those in need of a friend, a kind word, or even just a reassuring smile.
And with each person we meet today, help us remember to give you thanks for another opportunity to demonstrate the love, mercy and grace you have first shown us. Amen
Every family should have a room where Christ is welcome in the person of the hungry and thirsty stranger. – Saint John Chrysostom
One of the Early Church Fathers, Saint John Chrysostom (349-407 AD) was the Archbishop of Constantinople. He is best known for his preaching and public speaking as well as his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders. This is the third post I have shared over the past few days that illustrates his deep concern for the poor and hungry.
In my first post on Chrysostom I shared his statement that feeding the hungry is greater and more powerful than working miracles. He was showing that walking along side the poor and hungry should be an integral part of authentic spirituality. The quote above continues that theme.
Our ministry with those in need must be personal. There is no such thing as “Long Range Compassion.”
Real engagement with the poor means knowing their names as well as their needs. We need a place where Christ is welcome in whatever guise he might take. And the first place to prepare is our hearts. It’s all about loving those around us as much as we claim to love the Lord.