The Transfiguration of our Lord
February 7, 2016
“Everybody Has a Story – Part 6”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon today as I conclude my sermon series “Everybody Has a Story” is a text from Matthew 25:
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.”
This is the text. The person whose story we consider today is Kenny Soriano-Garcia. My dear friends,
I do not know nor have I ever met Kenny Soriano-Garcia.
Even so, from what I hear, he is the kind of person whose hand I would like to shake. And if you’re wondering, let me tell you what I’ve heard. Soriano-Garcia works at a McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Chicago. It’s not the kind of job that pays very much, and his position on the cash register doesn’t get much praise. In his case that ought to be changed.
Recently, an elderly man in a wheelchair came up to the counter and said, “Help me, please.” Apparently, the man needed some assistance cutting and eating his meal. Now a McDonald’s can be a busy place – have you ever been to a fast-food place during the lunch or supper rush? It’s a zoo! – and everybody on duty is expected to pull his/her weight. It would not be stretching the truth if everyone working behind the counter had said, “I’m sorry, Sir. I can’t leave my register. There is too much to do”
But that’s not what Soriano-Garcia said — and it’s not what he did.
Soriano-Garcia shut down his register, went and washed his hands, put on gloves, and helped the man with his meal. An eyewitness who saw all this said it was “the kindest and most humble thing I had ever seen.” That witness also posted a photo on social media and the event was quickly shared more than 350,000 times. Eventually, the story made it on the news and Soriano-Garcia’s employer said this is “a true testament to who Kenny is and a reminder to us all that one seemingly small act of kindness can touch the hearts of so many.”
Personally, I think he is a young man who realizes ringing up orders for hamburgers and fries is not his only job in life. Being a cashier may be the job for which he gets paid, but it’s not his only position. Kenny Soriano-Garcia understands that sometimes we have to go above-and-beyond to provide care for other people.
That text I read for you is the conclusion of what is called “Eschatological Discourse,” in other words, our Lord’s teaching about the end of the age…the end of the world. Here, and throughout the Scriptures, Jesus affirms that believers are to take care of one another, and especially the least and insignificant among us. Everyone can and should be the recipient of Christian benevolence. Paul wrote in Galatians 6 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (v. 10). Mind you, these good deeds are NOT the works by one which enters heaven. Instead, they are a visible manifestation of what real Kingdom life looks like: service, caring for others, love for those who need it the most.
If you take a look at our Savior Christ Jesus, you will see He has the same attitude. Even as He carried all of our sins on the cross, even as He was dying for all of humanity, He still made sure His mother would be cared for. He still spoke a personal heavenly promise to the good thief who was dying next to Him (see Luke 23:39-43). Can you imagine? Jesus, using even His very last breaths on earth, seeking to serve others!
Today is our celebration of an event we call the Transfiguration. Before His passion began, Jesus was revealed in His glory to 3 of His disciples in an effort to teach them in a most powerful way Who Jesus really is. The intent of this monumental moment is for the disciples to see, to believe, and then to remember so that when they see Jesus broken and dying on a cross they still have some semblance of hope. They didn’t, of course. They still denied Him and ran away and cowered in fear until Jesus came back to them on the 3rd day. They pulled back from what needed to be done out of fear. They didn’t do what needed to be done because they didn’t want to risk their own safety of comfort level. Remind you of anyone you know?
My friends, as God’s people we are to live like Jesus is coming back today, but plan as though He isn’t coming back for 100 years. Last week, and January 28th, was the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when that happened. One minute those brave souls were there, and then they weren’t. This weekend we say goodbye to our faithful friend Dick Kellerman who was with us one minute and the next he wasn’t. no one knows when life will end and so, my friends, live generously. Live graciously. Live boldly…because none of us know when it will end. By faith we know HOW it will end, and so we live confidently.
We should have a tremendous amount of empathy for those with need because we’re right there with them. We need what all people need: forgiveness, life, hope, a second chance, a break. And that’s what God provides through Jesus. And if your needs DON’T include the basics like food, clothing, water, shelter, and medical care, then maybe it’s time to thank God and do something to help those who have those needs!
Now I don’t know what all of you do and did to earn a living. I don’t know what you do or have done to put bread on the table. Even so, I am reasonably assured that the Lord gives you special opportunities to step out of that comfort zone and do special work in the Savior’s Name. By God’s grace may we all recognize those chances – it may not be giving to every panhandler you see – but we can respond as we are able. As Jesus said, “… as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” Even at McDonald’s