Matthew 10:40-42

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and 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 10:40-42

Hurricane Harvey isn’t over in Houston. While it is possible for the vast majority of people to imagine that life is back to normal because their own lives are largely back to normal, the recovery has barely started for others. Many neighborhoods are still decorated with piles of debris for landscaping. School overcrowding has taken on a new meaning as many schools absorb the additional students whose own schools won’t reopen this year, if they reopen at all.

Here at my house, my daughter and her children continue to share a bedroom. But they are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Kate is starting to imagine rebuilding the house. A new normal is just a few months away.

My own recovery continues as I impatiently experience the irritating aftermath of heart surgery. Every day something different hurts. It is weird how tiring it can be to do next to nothing. But I’m certainly getting better and I’m grateful that nothing at all has gone wrong. I’m right on schedule. In the midst of all of this, I can’t quit reading every news article written each day about the plight of those living in Puerto Rico and the islands.

What could be a better picture of the disparate realities faced by the poor and the well-to-do? Texas and Florida are both wealthy states. They are both populous and politically powerful. The state governments are well funded and the federal government’s response has been swift and overwhelmingly positive. Yesterday, my daughter told me that FEMA money suddenly showed up in her checking account.

Immediately I thought again about Puerto Rico. Families who are homeless now in a place without the basic necessities of life, with no idea how long it will take to even begin rebuilding. I read about the poverty and the burden of debt that makes solving any problem all the more difficult. And I read about decisions like keeping the Jones Act in place long after its original purpose was fulfilled, severely limiting Puerto Rico’s capacity to experience the benefits of free trade and competition.

This is the world into which Jesus sends his followers. He warns us that healing the brokenness of life will not come without a price. He says that pointing out and condemning – not simply noticing and explaining away – the disparities between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless – will be cause for rejection and oppression. He invites us into that fray and assures us that we won’t be alone.

He tells us that even the simplest act of welcoming the refugee, of serving the broken, even offering as little as a cup of cold water, will not go unnoticed. That line hit me particularly hard this morning. The ice maker in my refrigerator never quit working through Hurricane Harvey. I imagine the possibility that, this very morning, a father in an isolated village in Puerto Rico, also hosting his daughter’s family, is likely wondering when any of them will again taste a cup of cold, fresh, water. When that day comes, the father will thank not just the aid worker, or the construction company, he will thank God because that is how God will show up for him.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, let us never grow weary of doing the right thing. Let us never lose sight of our privileges and your call that we never lose sight of the oppressed. Bless every and all effort to bring hope and restoration into the lives of those devastated by hurricanes and earthquakes and every other sign of the groaning of your creation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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5 Responses to “Matthew 10:40-42”

  1. Marlys Says:

    Thank you for the great and enriching message! Daily we are nourished with your devotions.
    As you continue to heal know prayers are with you daily♥

  2. Dave Armstrong Says:

    Thank You! I needed this reminder. I hope your recovery continues at a fast pace. Based on your Daily Devotions, I would never have suspicioned that anything was wrong with your heart. Your heart for God is a blessing to us all! Get well! We need your daily reminders!!!!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    May God bless you and your family

  4. Sharon Says:

    You, in the power of the Spirit, continue to keep us in awareness of the great needs of so many. Thank you for being His willing servant. I pray for your healing and for your family’s recovery.

  5. Phyllis Cox Says:

    Having visited Puerto Rico with five friends to celebrate one of our group’s 60th birthday, I remember our trip around the island in a van and that the roads were by US standards very substandard at that time. I can only imagine how difficult their situation and I am grateful that the ELCA is responding in addition!
    I am grateful, Pastor Kerry, for your renewed health and I pray for your continued healing. All who read your devotions benefit from your writings and your thoughts. So many days your devotion seems aimed directly at me, though I know it’s not. Thanks so much!

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