Sermon for Aug. 28, 2016, by the Rev. J. David Else:
I believe St. Stephen’s is at a critical time in its life. I believe McKeesport is at a critical time in its life. I believe our church, our nation, our world is at a critical time in its life.
Let’s get back to St. Stephen’s. By all rights, we should be closing up shop. Our resources, both financial and our membership, are not sustaining. We’re damned good survivors, don’t get me wrong, but are we here to simply “survive”?
I believe I was sent here for a reason. I had no idea of being so, but I believe so now. I’ve talked before of a word which has come to have great meaning to me—”Weltenschauung,” a world view in which the pieces fall into place.
It wouldn’t be God who’s doing this, would it? Let’s look at the Gospel for today. (Luke 14:1, 7-14)
When we’re invited to the banquet, we are told, we are not to sit in the place of honor. We’re to go and sit in the lowest place. Well, McKeesport, we’ve arrived! We’re in the lowest place. Now, perhaps, it is time for us to move up. But where is up?
“Those who humble themselves will be exalted.” How?
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Please realize that I’m not quoting Dave Else, or the Bishop. Some guy named Jesus said this originally. Of course, he didn’t get very far with the church leaders to whom he said all this — the Pharisees. I’m not sure he’d get very far with it today, except maybe with us. I mean, we’re sort of sitting here at the lowest, or nearly the lowest place, and McKeesport may not be far behind.
McKeesport does have more than it’s share of “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.” I mean, does it all — this proposed mission statement by Jesus — does it make sense? I remember an old piece of advice I once heard. It stuck with me. “Don’t make sense, make love.” Might that be our mission statement? “Love one another?” Just among us? Maybe, just maybe, this is what Jesus had in mind.