Year A : Sunday 13/Proper 8/Trinity 5 Matthew 10:40-42
Matthew 10:40 "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."
Ideas for children:
- get them to give out ( disposable ?) cups of water to people as they arrive/during the service
- ask them why you give presents to people, perhaps reminding them of Fathers' Day the week before. In today's Bible reading Jesus taught we are to give to other Christians because he lives in them.
- get them to make cups using playdough or clay that could be decorated with a cross and fired later
- get them to think of people who are friendly in their lives. Last week we thought about people who are not friendly to people who follow Jesus. This week we are thinking about people who are friendly and practically help Jesus' followers.
- get the children to be 'Secret Agents', perhaps by dressing up. Explain to the children that Jesus said that his followers should not be secret about our faith and that we should welcome people who are his agents.
Our church is named after St. Martin. St. Martin of Tours (316 - 397), was born in Hungary and Bishop of Tours from 372 for about twenty years. He was brought up in Pavia, Italy. While a soldier in the Roman army, he is said to have divided his military cloak in half giving one part to a shivering beggar at the gate of Amiens and wrapping the other part around his own shoulders as a cape. After this, it is said, he had a dream in which the beggar was revealed as Jesus. This story has been passed down to us but, even it had been forgotten in time God will remember it.
Last week we were reminded that some people will reject, even persecute believers. Today's reading tells us that others will accept and support them practically.
Every believer has the Spirit of Jesus within them. Therefore to reject or accept a believer is to reject or accept Christ, 40 "He who receives you receives me. This is why divisions ion the church are wrong. That is why we should treat all those who are Christians as we would treat Jesus.
An issue of National Geographic included a photograph of the fossil remains of two saber-tooth cats locked in combat. To quote the article: "One had bitten deep into the leg bone of the other, a thrust that trapped both in a common fate. The cause of the death of the two cats is as clear as the causes of the extinction of their species are obvious. When Christians fight each other, everybody loses. As Paul put it, "if you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Galatians 5:15)
Next time you see someone in need it could be that, because they are united with Jesus it is He who is in need. In another passage, Matthew 25:31ff, Jesus told a story which showed that a true Christian helps the disadvantaged and, therefore Jesus. The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner.
Even small things will be noticed and rewarded by God "even a cup of cold water". Remember last week that his intimate knowledge of us includes the number of hairs on our head? No small act of kindness will be ignored or forgotten by God.
Of course, this doesn't mean that we have to restrict our acts of kindness to small things! Jesus used this small deed to show that God will see and reward everything.
In what ways can we give to fellow believers?
1] We can be welcoming to everyone.
We don't know if Jesus is living in the people we meet on the train, at work, in our local community, even people who visit our church! We ought to be welcoming and accepting of people because Jesus showed God's acceptance of us.
2] Helping practically. I was offered a cup of water last Sunday when I had a tickle in my throat. That would have been noticed by God and he will reward that person. Our trust in Jesus has to affect what we do. We should treat other people as we would like them to treat us, as Jesus said.
3] Christians are part of a world wide family. We can help people to enjoy clean running water, food, healthcare, education by giving to organisations such as Christian Aid and Tearfund. We can also help also by volunteering to deliver and collect Christian Aid envelopes, or giving to them more regularly, perhaps Gift Aiding your giving if you are a taxpayer.
50,000 people in the world are dying every day because of poverty. We can lobby for change. It is encouraging that world leaders have already agreed to wipe out the burden of unpayable debt that many African countries suffer from. Obviously, this money will have to be used wisely by governments in Africa to provide food, clean water, health care and education.
However, there are two other areas where change is needed. These are trade and aid.
What can we do? Well we could go to Edinburgh on 2nd July! There are other ways of making your voice heard though. You can join the Make Poverty History movement. Their website is : http://www.makepovertyhistory.org.
Another way in which we can help is to pray for the G8 leaders and the leaders of the African countries to use the resources at their disposal wisely with justice and generosity.
We can also buy "Fairtrade" goods such as tea, coffee, sugar, bananas, chocolate and wine. The Co-op are very active in supporting fair trade and most supermarkets stock "Fairtrade" goods. So each time we buy a "Fairtrade" item God sees this and he will reward us.
Welcome everybody and help everyone. You could be accepting and assisting Jesus