Welcoming

July 1, 2020 

“Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me [Jesus said], and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me.”  (Mt. 10:40)

Last Sunday the joke was from “Pickles” in the VC Star…it was a grampa and grandson…

the grampa says, “Nelson, show me that hole in your sock”…and he does; it’s a black sock, and you can see the hole, as there is a circle of white on the boy’s foot in the comic.  And grampa takes out a magic marker, black, and fills in the hole…and Nelson, probably about 7 or 8, says, “Wow!”  “Grampa, you’re like a Genius!” and I suggest that we do that; we cover up the holes in our lives superficially.

In July I talked about the difficulty, and the promise, and the strength in knowing that we represent God in all that we say and do; about how we have that responsibility, to represent God.  I told about Ruby Bridges, a six year old girl, who, in 1964, alone, integrated an all white elementary school, and spent her first grade year, alone, taught by a woman from Boston, Mrs. Henry, who ate lunch with Ruby, to keep her company.  There was a Rev. Lloyd Foreman who brought his daughter, Pam, to school on Ruby’s second day, and how other white children came then, one by one.  I showed the picture Norman Rockwell had painted of a little black girl surrounded by white Marshalls who walked Ruby to school every day, and how one day, she stopped and turned around, because she had forgotten to pray for the folks who were hollering at her.  She was a good representative/disciple of Christ/God, at 6 years old.

I talked last July also about the three Black women who worked for NASA in the 60’s who were the subjects of the movie “Hidden Figures,” and how I’d seen a sort of back stage video of the actors and the women, especially Mrs. Johnson.  And I found it on line looking up the news that the D.C.  Office of NASA will be named for one of the others, Mary W. Jackson, the Engineer.  I spoke about how they knew God was present in their lives, giver of their various talents, and how they used those talents to the best of their ability, even tho’ they were women, even tho’ they were Black.  And how knowing who they were, that God was with them, and how that presence allowed them to be humbly proud of themselves, as human beings using God’s gifts in their world, they overcame Much.

We have talked about the beginning of Matthew being a geneology from Abraham to Jesus, to show that Jesus is part of the Covenant, in the line of David; about how Joseph heard God in dreams, and did what he was told and so was righteous and could include Jesus, then, in his lineage of the house of David, and that Matthew has the story of the Magi… people who were from other nations, other faiths as a representation of Jesus coming for the World.  I’ve mentioned a couple times about how the end of Matthew has a command, and it’s not “Go.”  That verb is actually an ongoing verb, as in “As you go,” or “While you’re going.”  No, the command of the “Great Commission,” the order, the imperative is “Disciple.”  And we talked about how to Disciple, as a verb.  To love, No Matter What, No Matter Who; to know that God loves folks we think of as “less than:” those who don’t think they are worth anything, those who live righteous lives and get beat up for being good: “because of them is the kingdom of Heaven.(Mt. 5:3, 12); that those who mourn, those who are meek, those who wish for justice and mercy and peace are actually Blessed! (Mt. 5: the Beatitudes). That we shouldn’t worry about what to wear or if we have enough food (Mt. 6), and to pray as Jesus taught (Mt. 6).  We talked last July about how we have to step into Daddy’s shoes, and be “complete” like Him, by loving all kinds of people: “love your enemies, and pray for those who hurt you.”  Like Ruby Bridges did.  And that like children who want to grow up to be like Daddy, we have to receive the Hard Truths that dads sometimes tell us: folks won’t treat us well, necessarily.  They didn’t treat Jesus well, and we, as His students (disciples) need to expect that, as His followers, we will get similar treatment.

So, in the wake of Covid and being isolated; in the wake of Injustice and Black Lives Matter protests and rallies, I have been speaking that we need to look within and find our prejudices and have conversations and deal with these changing, challenging times.  We have to do the hard work.

So, going back to the beginning and talking about the hole in “Nelson’s” sock…this has to do with being aware that when we are received, Christ is received and when He is received, God is received.  We have to do the hard work; hear the hard truths, learn the hard lessons.

We need to get out our darning eggs, and needle and thread and do the hard work of repairing our world by reweaving it.  Instead of coloring in the holes with magic marker, we need to weave the world we wish to live into, that we wish our children and grandchildren to live into.  We need to do the hard work of creating a better, more just, loving and forgiving world, so that our children’s children to the tenth generation will have a world in which to live.  We can do this by recognizing that we represent God, and work to live into the world God imagined.  One of peace and prosperity.  Of love and kindness.  Of joy and caring.  

To close, I read a prayer first written/spoken in 1996 by Bishop Woodie White who is a Black man, UMC Bishop in Residence at Candler in Atlanta, formerly UMC Bishop in Indiana.  It reads like this: Receive now this blessing: 

May the Lord continue to torment you.  May the Lord keep before you the faces of the hungry, the lonely, the rejected and the despised.  May the Lord afflict you with pain, for the hurt, the wounded, the oppressed, the abused, the victims of violence.  May God grace you with agony, a burning thirst for justice and righteousness.  May the Lord give you courage and strength and compassion to make ours a better world, to make your community a better community, to make your church a better church.  And may you do your best to make it so, and AFTER you have done your best, may the Lord grant you peace.

Thanks be to God, Amen.

Blessings and True Peace,

Bethany

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