So we have talked a lot about mission lately. Specifically our mission as Christians, following the words and life of Christ to bring justice and peace into the world.
The “love your neighbor as yourself” thing.
The Micah 6:8 “You have been told, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To do justice, to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
The Matthew 25 stuff, “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 welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘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.’
Ok great. Yeah Jesus, we got it.
But like, do you find sometimes that it is just too much?
Dr. Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is a Lutheran Christian Ethicist who has extensively studied morals and the Christian response to evil and justice.
In her book, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as an Ecological-Economic Vocation, she teaches us about the structural sins in place in our world. Specifically, how we, as north americans, are complicit in structural evils by the very nature of our existence in our society.
Like, workers in a poorer country being treated harshly and paid poorly to make our clothes. Or how the amount of carbon emissions from this hemisphere directly impact weather related disasters in the southern hemisphere.
Dr. Moe-Lobeda shares a story from being a girl in her congregation’s Luther League and learning where sugar comes from. This revelation to her changed her life and set her on her course of study and teaching.
Her youth director showed a video documentary about the harsh working conditions on sugar plantations in the Dominican Republic of a certain big sugar corporation. She sat there and stared at the sugar packets next to the coffee pot at fellowship on that next Sunday morning thinking, “those people suffered so that we could have sugar with our coffee?”
It’s a lot. It’s too much.
The weight of the world’s suffering cast upon a teenage girls’ shoulders over a sugar packet?
It’s too much pain to bear. Maybe you have felt that way before, I know I have, that when it comes to the suffering of the world, it's just so great and you want to do something but what do you do? Where do you start? Can we do anything to make a difference?
And this morning in our Gospel lesson, Jesus is back at it again. Do this, be welcoming here, for the prophet’s reward, for the reward of the righteous.
Yeah, Jesus, I get it.
I’m doing all I can here. But how? How do I live a life of following Christ, of welcoming when he says to welcome, of giving when he says to give, of serving when he says to serve and it feels like the burden is just too big.
Keep reading, friends, Jesus gives us the answer to that too. “One cup of water at a time”.
Just baby steps. It’s ok if you can’t fix the world all by yourself. It’s ok if you can’t change the entire economic structure of globalized markets. It’s ok. That is not what God is calling you to do.
What can you do? What are the baby steps you can make towards the kingdom of God being realized on Earth? Not alone, but together as a community. What can we do to be God’s hands in this world to work for peace and justice? When the burden seems too great?
One cup at a time.
Jesus says, “and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward”
One cup at a time. That’s what we can do. The world is overwhelming. But we are equipped with everything we need to take it one step at a time. One cup at a time. One mask at a time. One loaf of bread, one dollar, one day… at a.. Time.
Be heartened, my friends, for Jesus is with us, encouraging us, guiding us, and leading us to live one cup at a time.
We can't fix the world in a day. God isn’t asking us to. Jesus isn’t saying you have to do all of these things to earn your reward in heaven.
Uh first, because Jesus gave that gift freely. It’s done. And second, because that is out of our power. God doesn’t say, yOu have to change the whole world or else!.
Nope, God never said that. God takes it quite differently actually.
O mortal, what does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
To try. One cup at a time. To try. And when we all do it together, that is the kingdom of God on Earth my friends.