This morning, our associate pastor gave a moving and interesting sermon on the idea of orphans in our world. He told a story about how last night he was having a conversation over the health care reform with a friend, and commented that if the Church isn't doing its job in providing for the needy, if the Church isn't picking up Jesus' call to take care of the orphans and the widows, then someone needs to step in.
The friend then commented something that shocked and outraged me at all once: "I don't believe everyone in the church is called to serve like that. I don't believe that we all have a call to help the needy - some just have that gift, and others, others don't."
Instead of laying out a piece by piece argument in response to this rather outrageous claim, I will instead point to James 1:26-27: "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
If that's not clear enough, here's Eugene Peterson's layman's translation from The Message: "Anyone who sets himself up as 'religious' by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world."
There is no doubt that the Jesus I know has called is calling and will continue to call us to a life of loving those in the most need around us. In calling us to love our neighbor, he is calling us to claim the orphans and widows and 'the least of these,' to look after them and let them know that they are loved, they are our brothers and sisters and daughters and sons. They have a family within the Body of Christ, and with those of us who have been given much to give much to others, they may find a home.
John 14:18: "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."