Christ’s words: ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me…..
And he concludes:‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
In his poem How the Great Guest Came, Edwin Markham tells of an old cobbler who made elaborate preparations for a dreamed-of visit from the Lord
The Lord never came. But when a beggar came, the cobbler put shoes on his feet.
When an old lady came, the cobbler helped her with her load and gave her food.
When a lost child came, the cobbler took her back to her mother.
Then soft in the silence, he heard a gentle voice:
‘Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with bruised feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
I was the child in the homeless street.’
Ours is increasingly a society where even some Christians are less like the Good Samaritan and more like those who passed by on the other side of the road.
Reach out? No! Too risky…. and in many cases we want to Lord it over others.
Let me tell you a story from the Archives….
I was ordained and inducted to my first Charge in 1974. Of course, as part of my pastoral ministry, I visited the elderly & infirm.
One one particular occasion, I called round to see this particular parishioner, an elderly lady who was housebound.
On this day, it was desperately cold and her home-help hadn’t managed to come along that day; as a result, the fire wasn’t lit.
The obvious thing was for me to go to the coal bunker outside, bring in the coal, and light the fire.
She would have none of this! Scandalised: “you CAN’T do that!” Explaining that a “man in your position” should not stoop …. etc
But I did. Got the jacket off, rolled up the sleeves, brought in the coal…..
….and after 20 minutes or more, and almost a full packet of firelighters and a box of matches used up…..nothing, no spark, no flame, zilch.
I got a look that said, ‘I told you – you shouldn’t have bothered!’
Of course, the word “Minister” comes from the same root as “minor” – lesser, and so one who serves.
In our ministry, as the people of God and as disciples of Christ, let’s never lose track that we have been called to serve – the highest calling, the greatest honour any of us could possibly have