“Are you God?”

“Are you God?”

This is the sermon the Rev. Karen Calafat preached on the Last Sunday after Pentecost, Christ the King, November 22, 2020.


One cold winter’s day a 10-year-old boy was standing barefoot in front of a shoe store, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and asked him what he was doing.

“I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” he said.

The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get 6 pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked her for a basin of water and a towel. The clerk quickly brought them to her. The woman took the boy to the back part of the store, knelt down, washed his cold, little feet, and dried them with a towel.

The clerk returned with the socks. The woman placed a pair upon the boy’s feet, then purchased him a pair of shoes.  She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and asked, “My little fellow, do you feel more comfortable now?”

The astonished boy, eyes filled with tears, looked up at the woman’s  face and asked: “Are you God?”

Jesus says when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked – or buy shoes for the barefoot – spend time with prisoners, visit the sick, basically noticing those on the margins – it is then that we grow in the likeness of Christ, for that is what Jesus did for people.  And for now, we are the hands of Christ in the world about us.

St. Teresa of Avila describes this well:

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which (Christ) looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which (Christ) walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which (Christ) blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are (Christ’s) body.
Christ has no body now but yours…

Today is Christ the King Sunday.  The final Sunday in our Liturgical Year.  It is kind of like New Year’s Eve when we consider how we have lived the past year and how we might live more fully into who God has created us to be in the year ahead.  I guess you could say it is the annual wellness check-up for our souls.  It is a moment to pause and assess our walk with Christ, ‘Because how we spend our time and who we actively love and do not love provide good indicators of our overall spiritual health.’ (Lindsay P. Armstrong)

God takes the initiative in restoring the lost and broken. The imagery used of a shepherd with sheep is familiar to us throughout scripture.  Shepherds are keepers and searchers and counters.  We are comforted to think of the Shepherd keeping us safe from harm; searching for us when we are lost; and counting the flock to make sure we are there.  “The shepherd image is about love and compassion for another living thing – to the point of self-sacrifice.  The calling is to do as God does: to care for the least, the last, the lost, and the excluded of society, out of a deep sense of love and compassion…. Karyn Wiseman says it well, ‘It requires us to get out of our comfort zones. Being a shepherd means getting dirty, (hanging out) with the sheep…, carrying them to safety, binding their wounds, and caring for their nutritional needs.’

The Divine Shepherd has particular care for the lost and the vulnerable and the sick and the starving. We are expected to do the same. We get a clear picture of that in Jesus’ parable of the goats and sheep. When we care for the vulnerable, we are expressing our love for God. We love the Creator by loving creation – both human and the natural world. This may begin simply with paying attention.  It isn’t as if those in the “goat” category in today’s gospel reading did anything intentionally wrong – they just did not pay attention to those on the fringes around them.

Taking a well-being assessment may help us change course in case we have been too “goat-headed”.  The pain felt by the goats in this parable involves recognizing missed opportunities to care for those treated unjustly — the vulnerable, outcasts.

Now the woman who bought the little boy a new pair of shoes was clearly being ‘sheep-headed’ – paying attention to what was happening around her – noticing, doing unto a child as Jesus would have done.  Perhaps you or I would have done the same thing in her shoes.  Or perhaps we would have done nothing at all.  That’s what the goats in this story did: nothing, nothing at all. They were not sinners in the sense of doing bad or harmful or evil things. They just didn’t do anything. Jesus was in the business of noticing… of paying attention.  Jesus “noticed people in their daily need, and he responded.” (Rev. Kathryn Matthews)

That is what Jesus asks of us – that we pay attention, that we notice, that we respond to the needs of those around us.  It is hard work, but the benefits are priceless!

When I was in seminary in California in my 20’s – (a couple of years ago) – there was a praise song that the church sang frequently.  It made me very uncomfortable.  It was a prayer asking God to live through our lives in such a way that “my friends mistake me for You.”  The “You” being Christ… being “God”.  “So my friends mistake me for Jesus.”  So your friends mistake you for God.

It sounds scary, but it really means:
Yours are the eyes with which (Christ) looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which (Christ) walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which (Christ) blesses all the world.

Pay attention.  Be alert.
Be in the world in such a way that might cause someone to wonder, “Are you God?”