Monday, February 6, 2012

February 5 Sermon

O God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry; When I have work, help me to remember the jobless; When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless; When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer; And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion. Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out -- for what we take for granted. Amen. (Samuel. F. Pugh)

There is a desert wisdom saying from the 4th century that considers our help for those who are sick:
A brother questioned an old man, saying, "There were two brothers. One of them stayed in his cell fasting for six days and undergoing many labors, the other went out to tend the sick. Which is the more acceptable work in God's sight?" And the old man replied, "Even if that brother fasting for six days were to hang himself up by the nose he could not equal that brother going out to tend the sick."
Helping the sick is an important part of who we are as Christians. Consider what Jesus did in the Gospel today.

Jesus helped heal Simon's mother-in-law who was in bed with a fever. That evening, people brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. After praying, he went to continue that ministry in Galilee.

Part of the ministry of Jesus was to bring healing to those in need. It is a ministry we continue…

Last year we raised on this Souper Bowl Sunday - $752 for the Global Fund to help fight AIDS, Malaria & TB (part of the MDG - #6 combat AIDS/TB/Malaria) None of those diseases we think about much, here in CT; but money for life saving drugs to those who cannot afford them is what Jesus would ask of us.

Bono from U2, UN ambassador for the MDGs, wrote this last December on World Aids Day –
“I’LL tell you the worst part about it, for me. It was the look in their eyes when the nurses gave them the diagnosis — H.I.V.-positive — then said there was no treatment. I saw no anger in their expression. No protest. If anything, just a sort of acquiescence. The anger came from the nurses, who knew there really was a treatment — just not for poor people in poor countries. They saw the absurdity in the fact that an accident of geography would deny their patients the two little pills a day that could save their lives.

This was less than a decade ago. And all of us who witnessed these dedicated African workers issuing death sentence after death sentence still feel fury and shame. AIDS forced us to ask ourselves the big, uncomfortable questions, like whether we were interested in charity or justice.

Yet today, here we are, talking seriously about the “end” of this global epidemic. There are now 6.6 million people on life-saving AIDS medicine. New research proves that we can slash the rate of new H.I.V. cases by up to 60 percent. This is the tipping point we have been campaigning for. We’re nearly there…” (from the NY Times – Op Ed - A Decade of Progress on AIDS, 11/30/11)
Instead of a death sentence, AIDS is becoming a chronic condition, managed by drugs – drugs we helped pay for through the Global Fund to those in developing countries. AIDS is still spreading but in more and more places, it is a fight that is no longer a losing battle because of the money to help fund the necessary drugs and campaigns against the disease.
Bono said, “I would like you to stop and consider what America has achieved in this war to defend lives lived far away and sacred principles held closer to home.”
Ever year, this weekend, we get a chance to stop and consider the lives we have affected through our gifts in these soup pots, we have given away $4,521.76 in 10 years and 837 food items to food pantries.

Money some years goes to the Global Fund helping us reach internationally. This year, we are looking closer to home, supporting the homeless ministry of the Chapel on the Green in New Haven.

No matter where it goes, it is part of our ministry to the sick, ministry to those in need, helping us move beyond just remembering those in need, but bestirring our compassion and making us concerned enough to help, by word and deed, for those who cry out -- for what we take for granted.
As Kahlil Gibran put it, “The coin that you place in the hand that inspires pity is the only chain of gold that links the humanity within you to the heart of the divine.” (The Eye of the Prophet)
The money that you give today in those soup pots, to the ones in need, links the humanity within you to the heart of God. Amen.

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