[As always, your comments, thoughts, and feedback would be most welcome]
A Sermon Dedicated to Alan Kurdi
As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.
Who among us was not deeply impacted by the image if three year old Alan Kurdi washed up on the beech in Turkey? I have been prayerfully considering what response is appropriate. The first thing I needed to do was convict myself of my lack of effort on this front when this has been an issue for so very long. My first response needed to be to seek forgiveness for not stepping up sooner. Alan Kurdi’s little body on that beech opened my eyes. I was wilfully blind to what people are suffering. There are millions of people fleeing persecution. That little boy’s death was my moment of having my sight restored and my ears unstopped. There are many more Alan Kurdis. What that in mind it is important for me to commit to personally give to a family who needs to be freed from the Hell that they are fleeing. There is no Christian response that can be rooted in being greed, or judgement. I need to commit, time, money, and effort to do something about this humanitarian crisis. I also realize that my efforts must be joined with a community effort. To that end I have called on our community to come come together to sponsor a Syrian family.
The call was well received. We will require approximately $27 000 to bring a family here. This week I received text messages and emails letting me know that if we do something there will be support. Those commitments totalled $3000. Today by the time we had left church, another $2500 was committed. There is a vibration of God’s mercy and compassion welling up.
The Epistle reading today from the book of James is clear – “Mercy trumps judgement!” So I am calling on all of us to step up! I am asking us to step away from the electoral rhetoric that we have been listening to during this silly season called an election campaign. That means avoiding the trap of judgement. So when you begin to say “What will they do when they get here?” – beware of the trap called judgement! Remember MERCY. When you begin to say – “Will it be a Muslim family or a Christian Family?” – Beware the trap called judgement! Remember MERCY When you find yourself asking, “Why should Canada have to do any of this?” – beware of the trap called judgement! Remember MERCY. When you begin to leap to the conclusion that we just don’t have the resources, beware of the trap called greed! Remember MERCY.
There is much work to be done. Let’s get to work together and do what we can to help this refugee crisis. If you want to help in any way, please be in touch with me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will need finincial commitments, we will need volunteers to form a Refugee Committee, we will need prayers. We need a joint effort by the people of God.
Today’s Reading from James
My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?
My dear brothers and sisters, listen! Hasn’t God chosen those who are poor by worldly standards to be rich in terms of faith? Hasn’t God chosen the poor as heirs of the kingdom he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the wealthy make life difficult for you? Aren’t they the ones who drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who insult the good name spoken over you at your baptism?
You do well when you really fulfill the royal law found in scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself. But when you show favoritism, you are committing a sin, and by that same law you are exposed as a lawbreaker. Anyone who tries to keep all of the Law but fails at one point is guilty of failing to keep all of it. The one who said, Don’t commit adultery, also said, Don’t commit murder. So if you don’t commit adultery but do commit murder, you are a lawbreaker. In every way, then, speak and act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. There will be no mercy in judgment for anyone who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy overrules judgment.
My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.
Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all? What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. So the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous. What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend. So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road? As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.