Different pastors follow different cycles of scriptures to use in their sermons. Some do thematic or series preaching. Others preach whatever is on their hearts that week. In most Catholic and mainline Protestant churches, preachers follow a lectionary–a set schedule of scriptures that take you through most of the Bible over the course of several years. The traditional Revised Common Lectionary goes in a three-year cycle, but there is a newer Narrative Lectionary that cycles through four years. Our Doubting Believer member group uses the latter, and right now we’re making our way through the Gospel of Matthew.
This week the scripture is Matthew 25:31-46. And for preachers who are preaching this passage on Sunday, it’s going to be almost impossible not to got to meddlin’.
For those of you not from around these parts (the South) or who have never watched Scooby Doo, meddlin’ is when you get up in other people’s business. Most folks like for their preachers to give guidance, share encouraging words, challenge them (to a degree) and remind them how much God loves them on an given Sunday. They don’t so much appreciate it when the preacher suggest that their politics and their commitment to following Christ might be at cross purposes. That’s when a preachers stops preaching and gets to meddlin’.
But there’s really no avoiding it this week. (Actually, good, authentic preaching should always meddle a bit, but that’s a different post.)
This week’s scripture is the one where Jesus tells the disciples that when the kingdom comes, those who have not feed the hungry or helped the homeless or healed the sick or welcomed the stranger are in a heap of trouble. Because every time we fail to help those in need, it’s the same as failing to help God.
Those who are all for taking away healthcare, cutting food stamps and building more walls are going to have some sore toes when this passage is preached. Of course, all of us should feel our toes being stepped on when confronted with this passage, because all of us have failed in different ways and at different times to do all we could do to help those we encounter who are in need.
It is a challenging passage for us all.
Keep in prayer all those preachers who are going to get to meddlin’ this week. And when we hear passages that challenge us, may we not simply walk away nursing our sore toes and bruised egos, but allow the discomfort to push us to change and grow in our faith and to walk a little more closely with Jesus.