Bishop Goff's Meditation for the Fourth Week After Pentecost

“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”  Matthew 10:42

The measure of hospitality that Jesus lays out in the Gospel reading we heard yesterday is quite minimal.  It’s simple.  It’s easy.  A cup of cold water to someone who is vulnerable, unseen or in need. 

Naming that Black Lives Matter is that kind of simple measure of hospitality.  We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that all lives matter.  Jesus said so when he commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and when he taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan what loving your neighbor looks like in action. If you haven’t read that parable in a while, I encourage you to do so, noting who it was that proved neighbor.  (Luke 10:25-37). All lives matter, including the animal lives and the plant lives on this planet that we share with them.

Naming that Black Lives Matter does not take away from God’s love for all and God’s call to us to love all.  What it does do is recognize that there is a particular population of our neighbors that needs a focus of our love and attention right now.  Think of it in terms of another parable of Jesus, the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15:4-6. 

“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’”

Focusing attention on the one sheep that was in need does not mean that the other 99 were not important, that their lives didn’t matter.  It meant that the one required special focus and attention for a time, because that one suffered losses that the 99 did not.  The shepherd lovingly chose to offer that focus.  So do I.  

The Black Lives Matter banner on the fence in front of our Diocesan offices in downtown Richmond is a sign of hospitality and welcome to our neighbors.  It is a sign that our predominantly white staff is choosing to engage the hard work of understanding prejudices in our structural systems and in our own hearts so that we can be more faithful neighbors.  Finally it is a sign of our bias, our Jesus bias, that requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially those neighbors who suffer disproportionate losses.  God bless us all as we walk this road together.