|Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 16, 2020||Sixth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Sirach 15:15-20; I Corinthians 3:1-9, I Corinthians 13: 11-12; Matthew 5:21-37; Psalm 119:1-8|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||February 9, 2020||Epiphany 5, Year A||Isaiah 58:1-9a, [9b-12];Matthew 5:13-20|
|The Presentation||February 2, 2020||Presentation of Jesus in the Temple||Luke 2:22-40|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 26, 2020||Third Sunday after the Epiphany||Matthew 4: 12-23, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Congregational Meeting||January 19, 2020||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A, Congregational Meeting||Isaiah 49:1-7; John 1:29-42|
|First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||January 12, 2020||First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 3:13-17|
|Epiphany, Year A||January 6, 2020||The Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 2:1-12|
|Christmas 2, Year A||January 5, 2020||Christmas II, Year A||Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Psalm 84|
|Christmas Eve, Year A||December 24, 2019||The Eve of the Nativity||Luke 2:14|
|Advent 3, Year A||December 15, 2019||Advent 3, Year A||Isaiah 35:1-10|
|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|Advent 1, Year A||December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Pentecost, Year C||November 24, 2019||Last Pentecost, Christ the King||Luke 23:33-43|
|Pentecost 23, Year C||November 17, 2019||Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28||Luke 21:5-19|
|Pentecost 22, Year C||November 10, 2019||Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38|
All Saints, Year C
Sermon Date:November 3, 2019
Scripture: Luke 6:20-31
Liturgy Calendar: All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” – Revelation 3:20
The other day I walked over to my friend’s house. I had something for her. Her car was in her driveway, so I figured she was home.
No one came to the door. After waiting a minute, I thought to myself, “Oh well, maybe she isn’t there,” and I hung the bag I had for her on the door and walked back home.
My friend told me later that she had been there, but she was busy and decided not to stop what she was doing to answer the door. And anyway, she thought I might be the Permatreat man.
Not going to the door is a way to avoid distractions.
Not going to the door is a way to avoid some potentially unpleasant situation, like having to tell the unwanted salesperson or fund raiser or campaigner that you aren’t interested, and to please go away.
Not going to the door is a way to protect ourselves from being bothered because we already have what we need and we are comfortable and just don’t want to be disturbed.
But in the book of Revelation, Jesus addresses people who don’t want to open the door.
The people in the church at Laodicea do works that are neither cold nor hot, but simply lukewarm, and who say, “I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing.”
To them Jesus says, “I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at your door, knocking.”
Would you hesitate to open the door to someone you thought might reprove and lecture you?
Well, this is how Jesus reproves those who open the door to him.
“If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me.” To me that is beautiful. I’m betting that Jesus has even brought the dinner with him, just in case the person opening the door wasn’t prepared to serve anything to Jesus.
So the reproof and discipline that Jesus wants to give us looks like a bounteous feast of love, mercy and companionship laid out before us.
I want to eat at that table with Jesus.
So for that to happen, I have to open the door when Jesus knocks.
In today’s gospel from Luke, the Sermon on the Plain, as it is known, Jesus talks about open doors and shut doors.
The blessed are the ones whose doors are open.
The poor open their doors because they are hoping for something, and through the open door, they see that the Kingdom of God is waiting for them. The hungry open their doors and see God’s table, laden with food and drink, waiting for them. When those who mourn open their doors, they begin to feel joy welling back up in them like a spring of living water.
And those who are hated and reviled on God’s account and who would feel safer hiding in a corner or even running away, can open their doors rejoicing, because as they look out, they see the great company of those reviled on God’s account who have gone before them, shining in a great light.
And seeing those who have gone before gives the feeble hearted the courage to leave home, to head out into the world, and to knock on doors themselves, carrying the feast of God’s light, life, mercy, love and companionship with them to share with all who would open their doors and let these servants of God come in.
Jesus also has some words for those who don’t come to the door at all. These people don’t want to look at anything more than their own comfortable surroundings. Why should they open the door? They already have what they need.
“Woe to you who are rich,” Jesus says, “because you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.”
Remember that story that Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus that we heard back in September? The rich man was dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously at his table every day. But the big problem was that the rich man never opened his door and looked out because he was too busy enjoying his own luxuries to even notice that a sick and starving man was lying at his gate, longing for even the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.
In Washington, DC., people live outside and sleep on grates in the winter, and the “rich” walk past on their way to expensive restaurants, turning their heads the other way. I know, because I’ve been one of the head turners myself.
But Jesus says, woe to you when you don’t open your door and see the need around you. Your reward is now and it is finite, frozen in this time and place, like some beautiful creature trapped and dead in a piece of amber for eternity.
Jesus goes on to say, “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.” Those who laugh at the expense of others, who ridicule others for their own amusement or to entertain others, who laugh over their own riches gotten at the expense of others, will come to a time of reckoning.
For example, in the book of Revelation, the kings of the earth who compromised themselves for the empire of Rome (aka Babylon) and the merchants who made great profits off their exploitation of the earth and the slave labor of the people, are mourning and weeping and wailing as they watch their empire come to a dramatic and awful end. Their fun, their decadence, and their revelry at the expense of the earth and its poor is over. They have received their reward.
And then this last woe—
“And woe to you when all speak well of you.” Jesus is talking about those who are constantly worried about the perceptions that others will have of them if they don’t conform to and reflect the prevailing opinions around them.
The fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” is an example of what Jesus is talking about.
In this tale, a vain emperor hires two weavers to make him a set of new clothes. These men convince the emperor that they have made the new clothes out of a fabric that is invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or who is hopelessly stupid. So the emperor, who does not want to be seen as unfit for his position or as hopelessly stupid in front of these weavers, puts on this new set of invisible clothes and then has a big parade so that all of the townspeople can see his new outfit. The townspeople all uncomfortably claim to be able to see the clothes even though they can’t because the emperor has no clothes, but the townspeople don’t want to appear to be hopelessly stupid, either, so they pretend that they can see what isn’t there. And this ridiculous situation continues until a child cries out, “But the emperor doesn’t have on any clothes at all!”
Jesus points out that those who live with their doors shut, caught up in their own riches and their own delusions, who refuse to look beyond the safety of their own walls, will eventually suffer the consequences of this insularity, fear and lack of vision, because they will ultimately miss welcoming Jesus himself in.
This Day, All Saints’ Day, we hear a knock at the door.
And when we throw open the door and welcome him in, Jesus will pause with us at the threshold of the doorway, looking back with us on all that has been, and looking out with us on all that will be.
Today is the day that we see once more all of those who have gone before us, the ones who in their lifetimes heard Jesus knock, and who opened their doors and let Jesus in, and sat down with him and ate with him. These saints who went before us are the ones who, being fed with the unconditional love, mercy and companionship of Jesus, then carried that love, mercy and gracious companionship out into the world, to knock on other doors, as they served God’s beloved earth and God’s beloved children.
In today’s closing prayer, we give thanks for gathering round God’s table. And then we ask Jesus to lead us out from this place to live as changed people because we have shared the Living Bread and cannot remain the same– because we are God’s saints on this earth now.
So God, ask much of us, expect much of us, enable much by us, and encourage many through us as we live to your glory, for even as inhabitants on this earth, we are already citizens of the commonwealth of heaven.