Thoughts: Goats get rather a bad rap in this scripture. Of course, they are used here as a metaphor, but goats in real life are valuable.
Goats are rugged animals, which can find enough food to eat even in poor, dry land, where sheep might starve. Goats’ milk is nourishing and easier to digest than cows’ milk. Excellent cheeses are made from goats’ milk. Goat skins make high-grade leather, including the famous morocco leather. Both mohair and cashmere are made from goat hair.
Goats are noisier and more aggressive than sheep, less attractive and less biddable. The people listening to Jesus would have been very familiar with both goats and sheep, so they were useful symbols in Jesus’ story. A wise teacher builds on what his listeners already know.
Discussion: What qualities of goats should Christians emulate?
Activity: After Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Mary looked at children and “saw a little Christ in every face.” We must see a little Christ in the least of these.
Thoughts: In my dear but unlettered little home town, a favorite saying was “Them as has, gits.” Matthew 25:29 expresses it more formally: “For unto everyone that hath shall be given ….”
And so it often seems. The bank president’s son drives a red convertible, captains the basketball team, marries the prom queen, inherits his father’s position, and lives in a big, pillared house.
But even those who have only one talent have God’s love. And if we use that talent the best we can, God will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant ….”
Discussion: Paul admonished Timothy to “stir up the gift that is within you.” Why do we fail to stir up our gifts?
Activity: Write a note of appreciation to someone who contributed to our Sunday morning service.
Thoughts: Reg was a proud graduate of West Point. He had a distinguished career in the Army, rising to the rank of full colonel. He was horrified when West Point began admitting young women.
The daughter of an Army friend of Reg was in the first class which included women. When she came home for Christmas, Reg saw her at a Christmas party.
“Merry Christmas, Uncle Reg!” she trilled. “I’m a Black Knight now, just like you!”
Wincing inwardly, Uncle Reg smiled at her. “Well, well,” he coughed. “How do you like your D.I?"”
“Oh, I just love him!” she squealed.
(Drill instructors are usually feared and detested. Uncle Reg asked no more questions.)
In the 11 ½ verses in our scripture, the word “love” (in different forms) is used 27 times. Manifestly, it is clear that we must love others, because god first loved us.
Discussion: What different kinds of love do we experience in our lives?
Activity: Think of someone you have known and have not liked nor loved. Then think of any lovable qualities which this person had. If there be any virtue, think on these things.
Thoughts: I cry easily. A neglected child in a book, an injured horse in a movie, a friend’s illness, a soldier’s funeral – just the sound of a bugle playing “Taps” – and our children would chorus, “mom’s crying!”
So I love the promise that “god shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” This image of our Heavenly father wiping away all tears from our eyes is ineffably sweet and comforting.
“So, the all-great were the all-loving, too.” – Robert Browning
Discussion: Another person’s grief can be uncomfortable for us. Why is this?
Activity: Remember someone you know who needs comforting, and give that confort through a phone call or a note or homemade muffins or a pot of hyacinths.
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