Narrative Lectionary this week is the last in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. With so much packed into these last three weeks I have chosen to concentrate on one verse. Some say it sums up the Sermon on the Mount, others the whole of Christianity, and some more than that, what it means to be human.
So I thought I would begin with a story…
Every morning I look in the mirror of my bathroom. The mirror has a large frame around it where over the years I have placed stickers that I have been given and take off at the end of the night. Among the many “I voted” stickers is a single spiderman sticker. I smile everyday as I remember the moment it was given to me.
You see my son wanted to give me a sticker. They were Spiderman stickers, his favorites. “Which one do you want, mommy?” “Which one do you want me to have, buddy?” he looked and thought for a moment.
It was an important moment, I realized. He looked and thought. Which ones DID he want me to have? If he chose his favorite to give to me, would I appreciate it the way he does? If he chose his least favorite would I somehow know and be offended?
I have no way of knowing if he chose his favorite or his least favorite or one in between. *I* really didn’t care, it’s a Spiderman sticker, but he did. I can go out and buy myself a whole pack of stickers anytime I want, and they don’t have to be Spiderman, they could be something I like better. But… it was a big deal to him. He has a finite number, in that moment they are more precious than gold.
My son was almost 5 and, you know, we are talking about stickers here, so I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say I am putting too much emphasis on his sticker choosing, but that moment of pause reminded me of all the moments we pause, that I pause.
In the last few weeks the government has “restarted” but I think about the residual effects of those who were furloughed. So many times I thought, “there’s no way my family would be able to go a month without a paycheck.”
As I pray for people seeking asylum in the US and being turned away or worse, locked in cages with their children and dignity stripped from them I wonder, “What would happen if my family were in danger and we had to flee.”
I think about my friends whose gender identity is fluid, who get attached in restrooms and I wonder, “What would I do?”
What if I didn’t have a place to shelter in subzero temperatures? What if we didn’t have health insurance, or salaried jobs who could take off easily when school closed early.
It makes me pause.
Our ability to do this is one of the beautiful things that makes us human. What if we put ourselves in their shoes, what if this “other” was me?
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
“The Golden Rule” we call it in Christianity. It is one of the early teaches of Jesus’ ministry. In fact, this teaching reaches every major world religion.
So why don’t we, just do unto others? It seems so simple, yet, it is SO very, very hard.
Will they appreciate all I have done for them? Will they know the sacrifices? What will I get in return? What if they waste and squander the opportunity?
I don’t know, and I’m not sure it matters.
What I saw in my son’s eyes all those years ago was love, he wanted to give his mommy a sicker. I didn’t need to do anything in return, if I had a sticker, he would want me to give him one, and I would. Sure, it’s an oversimplification when talking about a 5 year old and stickers, but he didn’t ask for anything in return, and I love him for it.
Every day I see that sticker on my mirror and I remember the love.
Can we take a moment and cherish the gift that is this golden rule? Can we spend one day celebrating that God gives and loves like this? Can we take a moment and put our egos aside and simply respond out of the abundance of grace we have been given?
Then can we get back to work on equal pay and mandatory minimums and overcrowding of prisons and institutional racism? Can we keep fighting? Can we freely and willfully give our rights to others as we want and often expect for ourselves?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or, in the case of injustice undo unto others as you would have them undo unto you.
It is not only my duty as a Christian but an honor as a person of privilege to ask, “which sticker do you want?”
This Sunday why not hand out stickers to your congregation and let them decide. Take a moment of silence to think through what they need, what they really need and how they can serve others with those same needs fulfilling a servant gospel.
The golden rule isn’t about specifics but about faith. We all want respect, love, compassion, mercy and grace. How we get those things in semantics, but we can come together in God. We give because we have first received.
The Reverend Shannon Meacham currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the Baltimore suburbs. She lives there with her husband Derrick Weston and together they raise their four children. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog, Pulpit Shenanigans, or listen to Pub Theology Live podcast, of which she is a co-host.
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