Sermon on Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 and Matthew 25:31-46 for Christ the King Sunday, November 26, 2017
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 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, 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.’ 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? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 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.’
“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
I grew up in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio – which is a small city, but large enough to have homeless people downtown.
Dayton was also large enough to have an area called the West Side, just across the river from downtown, which a few blocks west of the riverbank is quite poor. It was where Dayton’s version of the race riots of the 1960’s happened.
Most of my suburban friends had never been over to the West side, and the majority had never walked by homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks of the city. But I had. I happened to have a friend named John whose father owned rental housing on the West side.
John and I started working for his dad on weekends and summers, all through high school. So, I was on the West side a lot, and downtown too, where we often went to buy supplies. I saw poverty up close. I saw homeless people, prostitutes and pimps, drug dealers, and lots of poor people just trying to get by.