Please close your eyes, if you feel comfortable doing so. Begin to breathe slowly and easily, watching your breath as it rises and falls. If you notice any stress or discomfort in your body, intensify and then release it. Continue to breathe slowly and gently, watching your breath as it rises and falls. As you do this, your mind and body are at one. Now draw your attention into your heart – that place of peace and serenity where you can hear the still small voice of God.
Imagine that you have been invited with everyone you know to meet Jesus at your most favorite place outdoors. It is a bright sunny day. You feel excited to meet your wise teacher, someone who fully embodies God’s goodness and love, Jesus.
You find your place amid the crowd and sit down on a blanket you brought. There is a feeling of anticipation in the air. Out walks Jesus – whose warmth radiates to everyone.
He sits down and begins to teach, “’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.”
You sit there puzzled. When did you see him? When?
When did someone bring you food at a time you needed it? When did you bring food to someone in their need?
When were you thirsty and someone offered you a drink? When did you provide something to drink; when did you provide hospitality for others?
When were you new to a community? To a school or work or neighborhood? To this church? Who welcomed you when you were new at school or work or in the neighborhood? Who welcomes you here? When did you welcome the stranger at school or work or in the neighborhood or this church?
When did you need clothing? Who clothed you as a child? Or when you were going through a hard time? Who have you offered clothing to? Perhaps providing for family? Or offering hand-me-downs or contributing to a clothing drive?
When were you sick and someone took care of you? When did you help friends and family who were sick?
When did you feel imprisoned, trapped, or stuck by limiting thoughts? Who, by simply being present, helped free you? How have you shown up for the imprisoned, the shut-in, or someone whose thoughts or behavior holds them back?
In the quiet of your own heart, take a moment to give thanks to God for those people who have offered food, hospitality, welcome, material support, or the gift of their attentive, loving and healing presence…. Those people who have been present to you in a time of need…
Now consider how you feel when you offer food, hospitality, welcome, material support, or the gift of your attentive, loving and healing presence to someone else? … How does it feel to be an instrument of grace?
There are also moments when we hope that someone, perhaps someone in particular, will show up for us as the presence of love and they do not. There are moments when we feel challenged to show up for someone else and we do not. Within your own spirit, if you can, offer forgiveness to someone you feel let you down… Who wasn’t there for you when you hoped they would be.
And for the times you fell short of reaching out to someone who needed you, receive God’s forgiveness, if you can..
By receiving and giving the gift of God’s love and forgiveness, you are blessed to live in the flow of grace, inheriting the kingdom, inheriting the kin-dom, prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
May you see Christ in those who serve you and in those whom you serve. Amen.