Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sermon for West Salem UMC: Welcome in Christ's Name -- Bienvenidos en el Nombre de Cristo

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.

Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió. Cualquiera que recibe a un profeta por tratarse de un profeta, recibirá recompensa de profeta; y el que recibe a un justo por tratarse de un justo, recibirá recompensa de justo. Y quien dé siquiera un vaso de agua fresca a uno de estos pequeños por tratarse de uno de mis discípulos, les aseguro que no perderá su recompensa."


Sermon Text

Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió.


We're very different people, aren't we. Not one of us is the same. There are many things that make us different. We're different ages, and people of different ages and generations have always seemed to have a hard time understanding each other.

And we're in different life stages. Some of us are students, some are working, some are retired. Some of us are single, some are married, some are divorced, and some are widowed. Some of us have children, some of us will, and some of us never will.

And we come from different sorts of families. Some of us were raised in very domineering households, some of us had to take care of our parents more than they took care of us, some of us never knew our parents the way we had hoped.

We come from different nations and cultures: Native American, Anglo-American, German-American, Spanish-American, Italian-American, African-American, Asian-American, Irish-American, Mexican-American, on and on.

We speak different languages. Hablamos diversos lenguajes. Wir sprechen unterschiedliche Sprachen. And we don't always hear or understand each other.

We have different political beliefs. US politics are so polarized right now that sometimes it is hard to find anything that we have in common.

We have different theological beliefs. Even though we are all Christians here in this room, it might be difficult to find even one theological point on which we would all agree completely.

We have different kinds of spiritualities. Some of us respond well to sermons, some would rather sing, others find God more easily in nature. Some like to meditate silently, others pray out loud, others pray best in community.
We are all very different people. Somos gente muy diversa.


Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." Jesús dice, "Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió."


People were just as different in Jesus' time. In first century Palestine there were people from all over the known world. There were Jews, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Arabs, Persians, Sudanese, and many others. The Roman Imperial system depended upon a wide variety of people at all different social stations in order to function. It was often a very harsh and oppressive system, requiring much from the majority of poor people at the bottom in order to give luxury to a few rich people at the top. The empire had conquered many peoples in order to continue to bring wealth and power to the Roman elite.
Because of this, there were many ways that people were alienated from each other. There was great difference between those who had power and those who were powerless. Only a few people had Roman citizenship and all others were under a different set of laws. Most people spoke only their own local languages and couldn't communicate in Latin or Greek, the languages of the empire. And there were still many racial animosities, such as the mutual hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans.


Jesús dice, "Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió." Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."


It's easy to let our differences divide us. It's all too easy to let our divisions become animosities, and to let our animosities mature into hatreds. It happens when we think that everyone should be the same, when we become afraid of difference. When we start to worry that our own way of life is going to die when change starts to happen around us. And when we start to be afraid, we become defensive and protective. We develop an us-or-them mentality that pits us against our neighbors, instead of with them.


Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." Jesús dice, "Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió."


Jesus offers us a different way of seeing things. Even in the highly segregated and divided world of the Roman Empire, Jesus told his disciples that whoever received them, whoever welcomed them, had in fact welcomed and received him and the God who had sent him. Jesus broke the traditional barriers that divided the people of ancient Palestine and provided them a way to come together in unity around him and around God.


Jesús dice, "Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió." Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."


It's an interesting word, that word that is translated "welcome." The Greek word is dechomai, and it is a word that has many meanings. La palabra "recibe" en Griego tiene muchos significados. It can mean: to welcome, to take, to accept, to receive, to hear, to entertain, to greet, to worship, or even to expect. Significa: para dar la bienvenida, tomar, validar, recibir, oír, entretener, saludar, adorarse, o aún esperar. So Jesus could be saying, "Whoever greets you greets me," or "whoever receives you receives me – whoever accepts you accepts me – whoever entertains you entertains me…" the meanings go on and on. Jesús podría decir, "quienquiera le saluda me saluda, o quienquiera le toma me toma, o quienquiera le entretiene me entretiene." The point is that however you treat one of Christ's followers is how you treat Christ. La punta es que la manera que ustedes tratan a uno de los discípulos de Cristo es cómo ustedes tratan a Cristo. If we want to accept Jesus, and we talk so often about how we are supposed to accept Jesus, then we have to accept Jesus' disciples. Not just a few of them, but all of them. Si deseamos validar a Jesús, después tenemos que validar a los discípulos de Jesús. It's not easy. It's not supposed to be easy. But nevertheless, we are called to see the Christ that lives and dwells within each one of us. We are called to honor the Christ that is in each of our neighbors. To reject a disciple is to reject Christ.


Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." Jesús dice, "Quien los recibe a ustedes, me recibe a mí; y quien me recibe a mí, recibe al que me envió."


We are all welcome here, in Christ's name. We are all adopted into the same family of God through Jesus' gift of grace to us. We are all one in the Spirit of God. Isn't that a wonderfully miraculous message? Do any of us deserve to be here? It doesn't matter – Christ welcomes us anyway. Christ calls each one of us into his family, a family in which we are all brothers and sisters. Somos una familia en Cristo. Welcome. You are welcome. We are welcome. Welcome in the name of Christ. Bienvenidos en el nombre de Cristo.

5 Comments:

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