I'm working on next Sunday's sermon. It's not quite advent and technically (in our church, at least) past thanksgiving. So I think it will be a ThanksAdvent Sermon. I doubt it is the first of its kind!
The text I am working from is Matthew 25:31-46, which is Jesus' parable about the sheep and the goats. It's a parable about judgement (doesn't that warm the heart as we head towards Christmas?) In short, what seperates the sheep from the goats is the sheeps lifestyle of service and care for 'the least of these brothers of mine."
Who are these 'least of these?" There are many people it could refer to. The quick answer is that the least of these are the needy people stuck in poverty in our world. But often when Jesus says "Brother" he is refering back to his disciples. So 'the least of these brothers of mine" could be refering to Christian disciples or Christian missionaries who are in need. This passage is encouraging hearers to care for those who are in need, especially those doing the work of God in this world.
This is especially important this time of year. "Black Friday" looms around the corner when hoards of people will storm the stores looking for the best bargain. The average family in America spends close to $900-$1000 at Christmas...many putting that on a credit card and paying into the new year. (I should probably put a reference here, but it's at work!!) As Americans we want to get the best deals on the best gadgets and get as much as we can at Christmas time. Talk about the Christmas Spirit.
This Christmas, there are missionaries all over the globe who are struggling to make ends meet as their share the gospel of Christ. In our own country, there are those committed to serving the poorest of the poor to offer them the hope of God's love. I am challenged this Christmas season to take care of those in need, especially those doing God's work in our world.
I will be listing some links to sites where you can get invovled and help our brothers and sisters who are on the front lines and in need. They are working to help the world experience the transformational love of Jesus. This is our invitation to join with them.