Matthew 10:40-42"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."
(Everyone gets served a cup of ice water)
A friend of mine was in the airport not long ago, waiting for a flight. Instead of the usual airport stuff (magazines, pacing, checking messages). She put everything down and looked around. Something connected for her—the sacredness of humans of creation. And she said, “I looked around and thought, holy crap. These are all God's people. All created in the image of God.” She's sort of a crier—so of course, she cried because of the beauty.
Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.
Six welcomes in 3 little verses. The part that I am most interested in is the cup of cold water. Did you hear it? When we give someone a cup of cold water—we bear Christ. We are being Jesus to that person.
To help us think about all of creation being made in the image of God, let's look at these amazing photo's by Steve McCurry. They are from his book called Portraits. Go on and take one off the wall and bring it back to your seat. If you don't feel like getting up, ask one of the kids to bring you one.
Steve McCurry is a photographer for National Geographic. Here's what Steve wrote about these pictures: In Portraits, I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person's face...When I find the right person or subject, I may go back once or twice, or half a dozen times, always waiting for that right moment. Unlike the writer, once I pack my bags, there is no chance for another draft—either I have the shot or I don't. That is what drives and haunts the professional photographer, the gnawing sense that 'this is it'. For me, the portraits in this book speak of a desire for human connection; a desire so strong that people who know they will never see me again open themselves to the camera, all in the hope that at the other end someone else will be watching-someone who will laugh or suffer with them. From an outpouring of pictures over 30 years, these are the faces I cannot forget. Some stare out of places I don't want to remember. All of them represent chance connections in a world of resilience.
Now, as you look at the picture in your hand—think about that person as an actual person. Yes, Steve's artwork. But also, a real person. Living perhaps in Nepal, in Iraq, Mongolia, here in the US. Think about this person being made in the image of God. What if we take Jesus at his word, in today's Gospel story? What if we actually believed and acted as if offering a welcome—perhaps in the form of a cup of water—we are Christ to that person?
It's seems so small, doesn't it. A cup of water? A cup of cold water doesn't mean that much—unless you are thirsty. If you are thirsty? Well, then— a cup of water feels like you are being given your life back. Kindness might not seem like a big deal, unless you aren't usually the recipient of kindness. Then, it feels like life. It feels you have encountered Jesus. You really are bearing Christ. Thank you for doing this—every single day.
It seems so simple. So, ridiculously small. But it's the truth. Around this altar, we hear the words “This is my body, given for you.” “Do this in remembrance of me.” Here is this gift, says Christ. Fill up. Drink up. Know that you are loved. Now you, too, can give it away...
To the most vulnerable. The little ones. To the ones who annoy you. To the ones you already love. To the ones you feel have totally sold out. To the ones who represent The Man. To the ones who prepare your food. To the ones who take the good chairs at the pool. To the ones you live with. To the ones you live near. To the ones you only see on major holidays and make you crawl the walls. To the ones who are ignored. To the ones you want to ignore. To the ones you are so very proud of. To the ones who make terrible decisions. This week---look at the people around you with this lens. Take home one of these photo's as a reminder. Gorgeous, beautiful, people—created in the image of God. Each time you extend a moment of kindness, you are doing it in the name of Christ. You sure don't have to tell them that—but you could. And each time it is extended toward you—it is as if it comes directly from Christ. It's both so simple and completely earth shattering.