STRANGERS - A SERMON ON MATTHEW 25:31-46 AND EZEKIEL 34:11-16,20-24 - FR. JOSEPH ALSAY, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Excerpts of a Sermon Delivered on the Feast of Christ the King
November 22, 2020
The Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
Ezekiel 34:11-16,20-24 & Matthew 25:31-46
I just wanna be a sheep, Ba Ba Ba. And I pray the Lord my soul to keep. I just want to be a sheep. That’s one of the favorite songs from Vacation Bible School that the kids love to sing. For those of you unfamiliar with the classic, the chorus highlights our desire to be a sheep and the verses say what we don’t want to be: A Pharisee (cuz they’re not fair you see) or a Hypocrite (cuz they’re not hip with it) or a goat (they haven’t got any hope, nope.)
While this is a really fun song to sing with all the actions and word plays, it doesn’t mean much to most of us city dwellers. What do we even know about sheep? And why would we ever want to be one?
So yeah, I just wanna be a sheep; but maybe focusing on which animal to be misses the point of the story. It seems like an either-or-choice, this sheep vs. goats thing. And we know all about that in our modern life: Republican or Democrat, Sooners or Cowboys, northsiders or southsiders.
But no matter what side you might think you’re on, the thing that both groups had in common in this parable from Matthew was they were both surprised by what Jesus says. Both ask, “When? When did we. . . . ?” and when didn’t we. . . ?” Both were surprised, expecting a story of winners and losers, of right and wrong, of good and bad, realizing that they both had missed the experiencing the Holy One in their midst.
Jesus was hanging out with the least, the last, the lost; and both the “sheep” and the “goats” didn’t realize he’d been there with them in the middle of daily life, in all it mundane and messiness.
We really don’t expect to meet God in the lowly places and lost people. We don’t expect to see Jesus in the face of the disadvantaged, the poor, the imprisoned, and all of those in need. Typically, we think of God in the lofty places of power.
In this parable Jesus promises to always be with and for those who are in the greatest need. For God continues to come where we least expect God to be: in plight of the homeless, in the vulnerability of the sick and dying, on the side of the poor, with the powerless and abused. So, if we want to experience God’s presence most fully we will look for God in the needs of those around us and in our own needs as well.
That’s why we’re here.
When the church is at her best, people can see Christ in us and through us.
So you say “Show me.” Seeing is believing.
When did we see you hungry and give you food or drink?
When the $3,000 worth of groceries was bought for unexpectant people during the Brotherhood’s Annual Grocery Buy.
When 540 breakfast burritos were cooked and distributed last Christmas Eve.
When 100 gift backpacks were given to the residents of Jesus House at our Annual Christmas Eve Party.
When over 700 Easter baskets were filled and distributed to the needy.
When at the beginning of the pandemic, $7,200 dollars was raised that was matched dollar for dollar by the Vestry for the Regional Food Bank.
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothing?
When we gave out 500 bottles of water and cookies to those who used our church as a polling place on the 3rd of November.
Each time we distributed over 600 socks, gloves, scarfs, mittens, hats and coats to those who were cold, homeless or in need.
When we gave out over 10,000 pieces of candy for over 750 cars that drove through our Trunk or Treat.
When baby items were collected for a mother who was in crisis and whose water broke while she was in middle of our Commons Area.
When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?
When the youth group made and wrote cards for Covid-19 patients at Mercy Hospital.
When we made 113 visits to the homebound and sick members of this church.
Every Sunday we pray for the Jess Dunn, Joseph Harp, Davis, Eddie Warrior, Kate Barnard, Mabel Bassett, Enid Community and OKC Correctional Centers.
And there’s the surprise.
“Do we recognize God in the face of our neighbor?”
~ Fr, Joseph Alsay, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church