a sermon based on Matthew 25:31-46
by Rev. Randy Quinn
There are two kinds of people in the world. There are the people who
separate the world into two parts and there are those who do not.
In seminary I had a professor who had a word for those who divided
the world into two parts. And in almost every lecture he gave, he found
a way to use the word. I’ve only seen the word a couple of times since
my seminary days, and I’ve often wondered if I would ever use it. In
fact, we had an ongoing challenge to find ways to use the word, but I
never had an opportunity. Today is my first chance to use the word.
Bifurcate. Have any of you ever heard the word before? When you
bifurcate something, you divide it into two pieces.
We often see that happen in political rhetoric, but it doesn’t just
We have the rich and the poor.
We have the educated and the illiterate.
We have the immigrant and the native.
We have the black and the white.
We have the religious and the secular.
We have the good and the bad.
We have the young and the old.
There are Protestants and Catholics
There are Christians and Jews
People live in the developed world or in a developing country.
I could go on, but I think you sense what it means to bifurcate. It’s
when you divide the world into two categories.
When Professor Young used the word, you knew he was speaking about
things in a negative way. He understood that God only created one world.
There is a divinely intended unity in our world. And any attempts to
bifurcate our world are, in his mind, sinful.
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Good News to the "New Year’s Grouch!"
The “birth” of a new year is upon us. How do you
usually experience this event? I guess it’s not much different from our
morning attitudes. Some people have a hard time getting up in the
morning. They wake up thinking: “do I really have to get up? Not another
day of the same old, same old.” Or they may think: “not another day filled
with pain or labor!” This type of people, whom I like to refer to as
morning grouches, usually need a couple of cups of hot java and a couple
of hours into the day until they start to feel better about their day.
Then there is is the morning-type person who can’t
wait to get up because they are looking for new opportunities the day may
bring. Unlike the morning grouches, they wake up with a feeling of fresh
hope. These are the people that whistle on their way to work. If you are
a morning grouch, you will usually find yourself thoroughly annoyed at the
morning-type person, because they just spoil our pity party.
I found that these attitudes often carry over when it
comes to the start of a new year. The morning grouch usually looks at a
new year with skepticism, concern or even fear. What sticks out mostly to
them is the negative and how it might get worse. The morning-type people
usually also look at the dawn of the new year more optimistically. They
are more likely to see the positive and the new opportunities.
This year, as always, God is calling on all of us to
be “new year-type” people and greet the new year as a gift from our
Heavenly Father. Why? Because we have God on our side! If any book of the
bible was written by a morning grouch, it would have to be Lamentations.
But even this writer cannot help but acknowledge that there is hope for
the future because of God’s faithfulness. He writes: “Yet, this I call to
mind and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are
not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning,
great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23.
O.K. if Mr. Lamentations himself could see hope at
the beginning of every new morning, so should we. A new year is like a
new morning in many respects. So, if you’re a morning grouch, take
comfort in the fact that God is already greeting us in the new year. God
is the same, and God is and remains faithful and good! Take courage and
give thanks to God for his faithfulness even in the new year and beyond!
New Year's greetings and best wishes.
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