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Fourth Sunday in Advent: Remembering the Least of These

By Linda Douglas Smith

Maasai people and Ubuntu explorers

Maasai people and Ubuntu explorers pause for a word of prayer before entering Emuyiankat Methodist Church of Kenya. Photo courtesy of Linda Douglas Smith.

Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of God comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by God, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me

Maasai landscape in Kenya
 
Maasai landscape in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Linda Douglas Smith.

no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.


Reflection: Remembering the Least of These
Earlier this year the people of Maasai, located outside Nairobi, Kenya, welcomed United Methodist Women Ubuntu explorers, from the United States with great hospitality. As the van pulled up outside of the small church, the Maasai people, women, men and children were singing and jumping, their faces filled with smiles of joy at the visitors’ arrival. After an offering of prayer, everyone entered the church.

Their church began in June 2004 with 14 members sitting under a tree listening to the word of God – preaching, they say, that fed them when they were hungry. In June 2006, Emuyiankat Methodist Church of Kenya is a church the people of Maasai say is a miracle church. Their church is one room with a dirt floor, a few rows of wooden stadium-style benches, and a combination of iron sheet metal and timber that made up the walls.

The people of Maasai welcome
 
The people of Maasai welcome Ubuntu explorers to their church. Photo courtesy of Linda Douglas Smith.

The members raised $8,000 shillings, about $105 U.S. dollars, to build a fence around the church and to decorate the inside. A small battery-powered clock hangs from the ceiling and on the simple altar sits a vase of artificial flowers. There is no electricity in Maasai; the church uses a small generator. Today the church boasts of their 50 members. The Maasai tribe is a people proud of their tradition and thankful to God for its members. The people of Maasai are much marginalized from the days of their colonial masters – pushed to the outer, less populated areas, and the Maasai tribe wanted it that way. But they now admit they can no longer move around if they want their children to have an education.

They do have difficulties with no water or electricity, but say they are able to stand because of God. Many of the children in Maasai are orphans in need of an education, but there are no schools in Maasai land.

The community depends on their cows for milk, some sheep and goats for meat and they barter for the other things they need. They have started a group to make beads for sale, but have no market in which to sell their crafts.

Maasai children
 
Maasai children. Photo courtesy of Linda Douglas Smith.

Women leaders from three Nairobi circuits traveled to Maasai land with the Ubuntu explorers. One woman noted they had never been to Maasai before, but a fellowship was begun and it must be continued. Before we left, a tree was planted in Maasai land to remember the visitors from the United States, and we ate bread and drank tea.

Maasai Advent
What will the season of Advent be like for the people of Maasai? Here in the United States retail stores are decorated with Christmas trees, lights and colorfully wrapped gift boxes. Television commercials advertise store sales for Christmas or the “holidays” as they put it. With the current economic situation will families do the usual Christmas shopping and preparation, or will they scale back from last year?

 

A tree planted by the Maasai people
 
A tree planted by the Maasai people to mark the Ubuntu explorers' visit. Photo courtesy of Linda Douglas Smith.

As Christians what will our focus be? Will we feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, cloth the naked, visit the sick or visit the prisoner? Isn’t this what Christmas is all about?

• Do you know the history or beginnings of your church?
• Think about the people of Maasai, their church and its beginnings. What will Christmas day be like in Maasai land?
• Who will you reach out to in your church, community and around the world during this Advent and Christmas season?
• Are you ready for Advent Two?

Hymn: “What a Day That Will Be” 
There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus: What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.
There'll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Prayer
We praise You, O Lord, for the availability, the validity and the faithfulness of Your Word. It not only tells us about what is yet to come, but it provides signs and how we can be ready. We bow before you here today – to worship, to see better who You are and make right our relationship with You. We bring You the gift of ourselves, and place it at your feet here today. Help us to truly celebrate Advent One in the light and spirit of Advent Two. We pray in the power of Jesus’ name. Amen. (Christmas: Bells & Blessings” by Hazel Jaycox Brown, page 21-22.)

*Deaconess Linda Douglas Smith is an executive with the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

Last Updated: 04/10/2010
 
 

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