A, Christ the King Sunday Goats V Sheep
Sunday, November 20, 2011 The Rev. Blake Hutson
9:00 Children’s Service
Matthew 25: 31-46
How many of you have ever been to a petting zoo? Raise your hands. I have. When I was your age I really liked going to a petting a zoo.
You know what a petting zoo is, right? What’s a petting zoo? Animals are inside a fence, and you can go inside and meet the animals, you can chase them, they can chase you and if your parents will let you, you can even feed the animals.
Petting Zoos are often at festivals and carnivals—there’s also something called mobile petting zoos where the animals can come to your house. You can go home today and tell your parents that at your next birthday party, you want a petting zoo in your front yard. I know they would love that!
When I went to my first petting zoo, I was about your age and I met two of the animals Jesus talked about in this morning’s Gospel: I met sheep and goats.
Have you ever seen sheep or goats before? Tell me about them. What’s the difference between sheep and goats?
Sheep—produce wool, stay in a flock, eat grass and depend on their flock for safety sheep don’t always think they have the answers and they look to the Shepherd for guidance.
Goats—have horns and a beard, they also live in a flock, but goats can be bossy; goats climb on things and they play a game called ‘king of the hill’ where they knock heads and try to knock each other off a high place. They have a reputation for eating almost anything—and I mean anything; goats think they don’t need help from anybody, they think they know it all. They don’t depend on their Shepherd.
Jesus says that people can be divided into two categories based on what they do--the care, love and compassion they show to other people. He describes people that care for each other and that follow his example as sheep; while those that don’t care for other people, they are the goats. The sheep follow the shepherd, while the goats do not.
So, if we are sheep or goats, whose the Shepherd? Jesus. The question for us is whose the Shepherd in our lives?
So which category would you be in—the sheep or the goats? Jesus says whenever we help someone, do something nice for someone; we’re being one of his sheep. But the goats are selfish and ignore their friends.
I think rather than being one or the other, I think there is a little bit of both in all of us. There are those times when we follow the example of Jesus, our Shepherd; people see him in us and God is pleased with us. And there are other times, times when we are not at our best; times when we ignore the Shepherd and our actions don’t follow him—times we act more like goats. So I think there are some of both in us.
Let me ask you—Halloween was just a few weeks ago. How many of you dressed up for Halloween and went out trick or treating? Raise your hands. What did you dress up as this year? Raise your hand and tell me. I have to admit, I didn’t get dressed up, I stayed home and handed out candy to boys and girls just like you. When we dress up for Halloween, we wear a costume and people may not recognize us, especially if our costume is really good, right? We are hidden behind the costume we wear.
In this morning’s story, Jesus talks about God being hidden, almost in disguise. We saw this a moment ago with the Chalice Players. Jesus says we may not recognize him; We know, we’ve learned that God is in all of us. So is God in the sick, the hungry, those who are sad or hurting? Is God in the homeless? Where else do we find God where you have not expected to see him? Can you think of anything? We find Jesus in one another—because God is in each us. We find God at home and in the Bible. Look outside the Great Window behind the Altar. Every week when we look out that window, we are reminded that we see God in nature too.
Remember: Jesus identifies himself with those who are hurting; when we help them, Jesus says we are helping him.
And remember we’re all his sheep! Everybody say “Baa!” Congregation and children say, “Baa!” Say, Baaa!”