Matthew 25:31-46 James 2:14-24
Sometimes world news is overwhelming and difficult to comprehend. Maybe it was better in the days when we were not as aware as we are now. Global internet can be a blessing – but may become a curse as we struggle to process what we can possibly do when there are so many people in need.
James, writing his letter, is very blunt. If you are going to say you are following Christ then words are not enough. Prayers are not enough. Sympathy is not enough. Actions speak louder than words. Jesus told that story of the sheep and the goats simply to illustrate the fact that when humans act in kindness and justice they are not just helping those in need but Jesus himself. In every human being that is struggling, Jesus is there, beside them and within them.
We cannot hope to mend every ill in the world. We know that human influence has resulted in the devastation of the natural world in places. That global warming will cause sea levels to rise and drown little islands in the Pacific; that extreme weather will cause floods and drought, with terrible consequences on food supplies and farming and forests. We know that the actions of industrialised nations such as ours impact on countries on the far side of the world. Cop 26 is over – and as the Queen pointed out in her opening speech – the time for talking without doing is over. We have to do something.
Every night my grandmother would sit down after tea with her sewing box and mend; she would darn the socks, sew up a torn pocket; repair a missing belt off trousers or dress. She would say “ If we mend when it’s only a small job it will never become a big one” God knows the wrongs of this world have now become very big jobs indeed, as we have failed to mend them first of all through ignorance and in more recent years by laziness or selfishness. But the only way to mend injustice is a little at a time.
According to our means, we must do what we can. There are people within our grasp who slip through the net of social welfare, or who live in countries where they do not have the support available. God calls us to a life of love in action. Believing and worshipping is only one aspect of our faith. Next week our churches will begin our pilgrimage towards Christmas – for many people a time of excessive eating, drinking and gifting that must be paid for in the new year.
Love on its own is not enough. Love in action puts a smile on faces; it shows our care and compassion goes beyond these walls and opens hearts and hands to be Christ in our community.
Revd Barbara Bennett