Ok, So You’re a Goat

There are many stories in scripture that label and divide people – righteous and unrighteous; worthy and condemned.  The gospel of Matthew has several – unprepared bridesmaids, disobedient servants, and sheep and goats.  That “division” perspective, along with the idea that Christ was a cosmic judge, crept into the very early Christian story.  But it is not the thinking of Jesus.  The core of the Jesus message is love, compassion, inclusion and care for all, without exclusion, especially the “least” among us, the most different.  Matthew leverages this to say: “If you fail in that mandate, then you are missing the messiah’s message and will be punished by God forever.”  He turns it into a separation message, where losers (bridesmaids, servants, and goats) get cast out and rejected.

Our church doesn’t believe that.  Jesus’ followers were an infant church of rejects and less-thans, as well as people who did their best to find the realm of God in their time. We are not punished for failing to live into God’s hopes for us. We are judged compassionately.  God continues to have hope for us, encourage us, empower us, believe in us, and surround us with a herd of our fellow creatures, both sheep and goats.  Being part of a community – a human, faithful, fallible community – is vital when we recognize that we are in a present culture of scapegoating and blaming.  In our communities we are strong and united.  God does seek out all the lost, without exclusion, the sheep and the goats,  and gives them a family.  That is why we have each other, church, and that is the way we can all deal with being goats.  So you’re a goat.  So what?

Blessings — Pastor Carol

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