Monday, August 12, 2013

Prepared: Ready or Not

          Last weeks lesson was about planning for the future, the eternal, heavenly one, not our future here on earth.
          Today let’s think about being prepared. Part of being prepared does involve planning, gathering resources, and maybe even double checking to see if we have everything, checking to see we haven’t forgotten something.
          Let’s say we do that, plan, check, and double-check.  It’s all done, then what? Do we just sit and wait?
          I don’t think so. Jesus said, in our gospel reading today, that the disciples, and I believe that includes you and me, were to, “Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on.” And before Jesus made that statement he said, “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
          What’s that mean, give you the kingdom? What does Jesus really mean when he says, “Sell your possessions, and give alms?” 
          Last week Jesus reminded his followers, and us, that it is futile for us to build huge nest eggs for ourselves because “we can’t take it with us.” And none of us can possibly know when God will call us home.
          No one knows, and that’s why he said, “You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” 
          So, the question or questions are, “Are we ready for the Son of Man to come?” Have we been storing up treasures in heaven?
          If the Son of Man appeared right now and separated the sheep from the goats, which group would we find ourselves in? If we look in Matthew 25 beginning with verse 31 we’ll find that the Son of Man, Jesus, will be seated on his throne in glory and all the nations will be gathered before him and they’ll be separated just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
          On one side will be those who cared for the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick, and those in prison. On the other side will be those who didn’t. And so, the question, “If the Son of Man arrived today, where will we be found?”
          The question is are we ready for the Son of Man to arrive or have we been saving for the wrong things?
          To help us in our discernment Jesus said, “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Where is our treasure, that’s the question?
          How have we been saving for our salvation?  You see, what we are saving for is the real focus of our lives. What we are focusing on is where our heart is.
          So, how far out are we looking? Are we looking too far into the future? It would seem so to me.
          Jesus, I think, is telling us we need to focus on the ‘now’ doing things like caring for the poor, the naked, the hungry and thirsty, the sick and the imprisoned. And not doing these things begrudgingly, judging them every second that we’re helping them but performing these tasks with genuine love, love like Jesus did when he healed and touched and taught and forgave.
          The Nike slogan comes to mind right about now, “Just Do It!”  Just do it and don’t count the cost or worry about the future. Just do it and help that person who doesn’t have anywhere else to turn. Just do it and ‘Don’t be afraid.’
          Easy for me to say, but it’s not so easy to ‘just do it.’ What if we did ‘just do it?’ What do you suppose would happen? Would the earth stand still? Would the plight of the poor and the homeless change? Would there be fewer folks in need?
          Maybe not, but is that the point? Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. Our focus should be on God’s kingdom right here, right now.
          Focusing on that, and not on ourselves, frees us to love and care for those who desperately need love and compassion.
          God blesses us with so much every single day and all he’s asking us to do is to share the gifts with the folks we meet. By doing so we build a savings account that earns more interest than we could ever imagine. And that’s something we can take with us when God calls us home.

          Thanks be to God for his grace showered upon us every day. Amen.