st thomas episcopal church, amenia union


Three Steps Toward Radical Hospitality Found in Luke 6:37-38

A sermon by the Rev. Dr. Robert D. Flanagan for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C, Luke 6:27-38

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

This morning I want to tie Jesus’ three teachings found in Luke 6:37-38 to Radical Hospitality. By the end of my sermon, I hope you will see that these aspects of Christian living embody the core essence of Radical Hospitality and will give you a concrete way of living out Radical Hospitality.

The Story of Imago Dei found in Genesis 1:26.
     Teaching the Bible to Sophomores
     Explaining the Difference between humans and other creatures.
     Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.”
     I told them that they could only look at the first 25 verses.
     Creating and Judging are the only actions God takes in the opening of Genesis.
     Both are hallmarks of being human.

The Sunflower is a book that explores the possibilities and limits of forgiveness. In the first half to the book, the author Simon Wiesenthal described an event that happened to him while he was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. While on a work detail near a hospital, he was ushered into a room where a Nazi soldier, named Karl, was dying. The man told Simon about the Jews he had killed as a member of the SS. At the end of his confession, he asked Simon for forgiveness. Simon wondered if he could. Who wouldn’t wonder about such a thing?

My wife Lanie and I were talking the other day about the breakfast beverages we had as kids. We both remarked that our mothers would water down the orange juice and milk. We both drank orange juice made from concentrate. You know, in the cans. The instructions said to add three containers of water to the bright orange mix. Our mothers always told us to add a fourth. The milk, which was always skim to begin with, was offset with a scoop of powdered milk plus water. In my house, if the milk or orange juice were not measured correctly, my father would complain.

In our reading this morning, Jesus stated that these three tendencies are incorrect. We are not to judge, lest we are judged. We are to forgive, if we want to be forgiven. We are to be generous, if we want to receive generosity.

My high school students understood that humans judge things. Judging whether something is good or bad is a teenager’s sacred right. The challenge for them, however, was to suspend judgment. What teenager can easily do that?

In the second half of The Sunflower, a variety of religious and secular people reacted to the story and stated whether they would have forgiven Karl or not. Some would have and some wouldn’t. Simon Wiesenthal didn’t. One respondent was the former South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His words were challenging yet comforting to me. He wrote, “[Forgiveness] is a costly business that makes those who are willing to forgive even more extraordinary” (267). He also wrote, “Forgiveness is not some nebulous thing. It is practical politics. Without forgiveness, there is no future” (268). Forgiveness is perhaps the toughest but most significant action a person can take.
When my family and I would travel to Florida for our winter vacation, I would order orange juice. The waiter would then bring me a glass. I would take a swig and immediately shake my head at the tart taste. Was this how orange juice really tasted like? Generosity means suspending the natural tendency to save, conserve, and protect ourselves in case of scarcity.
Now think about radical hospitality. Is it not something that asks us to suspend our tendency to make quick judgments about others? Is it not also, being willing to forgive another’s actions, even when it is tough to do so? Isn’t Radical Hospitality about being generous, even when we worry about scarcity? I would argue that all three of those are the exact qualities that make up radical hospitality.

As we continue our journey together, I want you to embody more and more these qualities. When a new person comes to church—and they do come—make sure you are not quick to judge. If another member makes a mistake be quick to forgive. In all things, be generous because Jesus was so generous that he went to the cross to die for our sins.

Radical hospitality tests our natural tendencies. But in doing so, we share and discover God’s grace. We give and receive the pardon that God has for each of us. We offer and feel the love that God has for all of us. And that is good news!

Wiesenthal, Simon. The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. New York: Schocken Books, 1998. 

  • 14:31

SERMON 2/24/19