She laughed when she said it, but I think she was serious. “Unless it matters to me, it doesn’t matter.” If a stranger had said that to me, I would have written them off as terminally selfish or narcissistic. But this is a person I know who is, ordinarily, kind and thoughtful. But it seems the “kind and thoughtful” switch has been turned off, and she now does, says, thinks whatever seems best for her, regardless of the consequences. I don’t quite understand what has happened.
“Unless it matters to me, it doesn’t matter.” She is not the only one who feels that way.
Recently, a famous body-builder and virus-minimizer was hospitalized with Covid-19, hovering near death for weeks. He is now everywhere on social media, posting “before” and “after” photos of his once ripped body now ravaged by virus, begging people to take the virus seriously. “It happened to me! It could happen to you!” Suddenly, it mattered—because it mattered to him.
We are all myopic in our own ways. We are all most concerned about our own concerns. But what would it take, what would it mean, if we cared about what others care about, if we tended to the needs of others before our own? What would happen if, when it mattered to you, it mattered just as much to me?
Sunday is celebrated as the Festival of Christ the King, a “newbie” to the church calendar, established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. What was happening in 1925 that occasioned a new occasion? Those turbulent years between the two great world wars saw the steady rise of dictators and nationalism. As political leaders across Europe demanded absolute and unquestioning allegiance, the church wanted to remind the world that there is only one Ruler, only one King and his name is Jesus. How troubling that political events that spawned this festival a century ago make it still relevant in our time.
Christ the King Sunday begs us to consider what matters to others, specifically what matters to our King.
“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” the King said.
“I was naked and you gave me something to wear,” the King reminded.
“I was in prison and you visited me,” the King thanked.
What sort of King lives this hungry, naked, incarcerated life? Our King. Our King Jesus, who is found not on a throne or in a palace, but in the world’s lowest place. Because, though our King loves us all, there is a soft spot in the King’s heart and a special place in that kingdom for those whose lives are most difficult, who go often unnoticed, those whom we disregard.
Though Jesus is the Ruler of Nations, Son of God and Savior of All Creation, though he could easily have delegated compassion to someone on his staff, Jesus decided to care, to notice, to make the world’s sorrows his sorrows, to regard the world’s poor his siblings, to befriend those who are strange to us. Why? Because when it matters to us, to any of God’s children, it matters to God.
We were all saddened to learn that Illinois has been, necessarily and wisely, returned to Covid-19 High Alert. We are re-thinking our Thanksgiving plans. We are weighing greater and lesser risk. We are considering the safety of those we love. And though being apart is painful, we honor the rules, we curb our enthusiasm, we put aside our own needs. Why? Because if it matters to someone else, it matters to us. (Masks matter.)
We gather remotely for Worship on Sunday to celebrate Christ who is our King. We invite you to drive by on Sunday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to deliver your pledge of financial support and receive a pie in return. Pledge and Pie! What could be better? (Pledges may also be mailed in, or delivered to the office in person during office hours.) Thank you for your generous support.
Why do we go to such extreme measures to worship together, to carry on our ministry, to care for the world’s poor, to protect the vulnerable? Because the King has modeled our way of life. If someone is hungry, we feed them. If someone is frightened, we comfort them. If someone is in danger, we protect them. If it matters to someone else, it matters to us. And all of us—woke and reluctant, rich and poor, healthy and weak—matter to God.
“See” you Sunday,
Pastor JoAnn Post