Random Acts of Kindness, by following the Gospel

The following Sermon occurred at Augustana Lutheran Church, in Hyde Park where perhaps, my next journey in my spiritual and pastoral journey will lead me in Campus Ministry

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,

no hands but yours,

no feet but yours,

Yours are the eyes through which to look out

Christ’s compassion to the world

Yours are the feet with which he is to go about

doing good;

Yours are the hands with which he is to bless humanity now.”

(pause)

St. Teresa’s echoes

What Jesus empowers both His disciples

And us, beloved

About how far,

A cup of cold water,

The simplicity of being in relationship

And working in community,

means for a world

that seemingly only deals

in separation and segregation

and is steeped

in death.

(pause)

Being with you this morning,

Is a wonderful culmination

To a week of Sabbath time that I have had the joy of experiencing

This past week,

And I am grateful, as well

For the opportunity

As we discern,

Explore

What the Gospel

Is calling us into.

(pause)

Random acts of kindness.

Who have we offered

That cup of cold water to?

(pause)

A number of years ago,

After the impact

Of a horrific public shooting,

My husband and I were running errands

On the north side of the city.

We happened to see at the corner of Belmont and Diversey

A young tattered man,

Holding up a large sign,

Carved out on cardboard

With the words,

“You Are Loved.”

My husband,

an avid photographer,

Moved towards him

Asking for permission to take his photo

And engage him in conversation.

His response to my husband’s question

About whether he was out there

Because of what had happened,

Was

“No.

I didn’t even know it had happened.

Something just told me I needed to do this today,

That people needed to see this,

You know?”

There is no way we can measure,

Whether he was making a difference

But,

Here was a young man,

Offering to strangers

That cup of cold water

In an atmosphere

That was thirsty

For a sense of relief

And of peace.

(pause)

Random acts of kindness

What does it even mean,

For us to offer to others

That cup of cold water,

Just as Christ extended that same cup

To us?

(pause)

I’ve spent the past week,

At Augsburg College

As a Theology and Vocation Fellow

Through the Lily Foundation.

My cohort group and I

Are charged with critical thinking

Analysis

And creation

Of curriculum and programming

Focused on closing the gap of faith formation

That occurs with our youth,

And young adults

Along their faith journey.

Its not just a vehicle to be used

Simply to keep the numbers up

In our post confirmation

And college ministries

But as an essential and vital tool,

To assist and be a resource for them,

Along their spiritual and faith journeys

As they navigate an ever-expanding world

And what they are called to do

It’s not just simply imploring them

To stay in the church,

For our comfort

It is a way for them to understand that vocation

Has a vast meaning and purpose

Not just in the seminary or religious sense,

But the work we do,

Marked as a child of the Creator

Is holy,

Sanctified

And vital,

Regardless if it involves those whom we know and love

Or if they are those that the Creator God has led us to.

(pause)

Ultimately,

it is not about how big of an impact,

we should be measured by

But more so,

We are always working as disciples of Jesus Christ,

Towards healing and liberation,

For all,

Because that is the Good News,

For a world,

That is overwhelmed,

And being choked

By hatred.

(pause)

As a fellow,

We were observers to Augsburg’s

Youth Theological institute

Also this week.

High school students were immersed in the theological

And the practical understanding of ministry and mission

And it was indeed interesting

To see how,

This evolved into

Random acts of kindness

Without hesitation,

They gave and engaged our homeless siblings in Christ,

Whether it was sharing what they had purchased for lunch

Or what resources they had on them

(pause)

Random acts of kindness,

That phrase is easily thrown around

To where sometimes we are jaded,

And its watered down to a point,

Where humanity only sees the surface meaning,

That it’s nothing more than a feel-good vehicle

And a social media photo op.

But even with the heavy responsibilities

That Jesus Christ has laid at the disciples’ feet

Throughout Matthew 10,

Jesus also recognized,

That He needed to anchor both them,

And us, beloved

That even the simple act,

Of a cup of cold water

“to one of these little ones

truly I tell you,

none of these will lose their reward.”

Jesus knew,

Both then and now

That we as people of faith,

Sometimes get so worked up

And obsessed

With this notion

That our purpose is that we have to save people,

That we have to evangelize

That we have to solve the problem

About how to get new members,

And keep the youth and young adults,

That we forget,

Jesus Christ,

Has already SAVED ALL OF US.

Thanks be to God that holy,

And hard work

Has already been accomplished

At the Cross!

Jesus extended that cup of cold water

At the Table,

Forever liberating us

From anything,

Any abyss,

Any darkness

That continually attempts to block us

From the light

And unending love

Of the Creator God.

(pause)

Jesus Christ,

Has lovingly poured that cup of cold water over us,

Marking us forever,

As God’s,

Regardless of where our faith journey leads us.

(pause)

Jesus,

Calls us

Teaches us

Reminds us

To extend that same cup of cold water,

Emulating Christ

In the world,

Through yes-

Those random acts of kindness,

Which are nothing more than,

following Jesus’s commandment

of loving one another

through random acts of liberation,

Liberating from sin, from sorrow, from darkness

Random acts of healing,

Healing from sadness, from despair,

Random acts of love,

LOVE!

Love that the Creator has poured into who we are

That is Good News.

So,

what random acts of kindness,

can we do today?

Because no one will know, right?

And yet,

We,

through these acts of grace and mercy,

are weaving together

the beloved community.

Thanks Be to God.

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