- The Washington Times - Monday, August 13, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Larry W. Schmidt at Calvary Lutheran Church in Silver Spring, Md.

Don't let that our song's happy Caribbean beat cover up its deep Gospel lesson. We should not be afraid to give, for that is our Father's pleasure. God is always giving. That is the joy of life, even though we so often stop, anxious that we don't have enough.
Our church bulletin today has a painting of Christians in Trinidad gathered around a simple table with candles and the Scriptures. They are trying to find their direction in life. That is also why we are together.
There is a bus stop up the hill from my home, and every day I see workers at the nursing home get off the bus and walk to their job. Our nation has a shortage of caregivers now. We are going overseas to find people willing to do that work.
The nursing home workers I see are almost all immigrants. One lady in her early 50s has intrigued me by her cheerful look every day. So one day, I complimented her and she told me her story. I loved the way she says, "Cameroon," her native land. Her husband died in a plane crash five years ago and she fell into a terrible depression.
Now, her five children are with her mother. A year ago she came to America, where she has relatives. She told me, "I needed a change for my depression. As I work, I send money back home." I told her it was not hard to see her goal, which was to establish residence here and reunite with her children. "That is right," she said. "God is so good."
In our first lesson [Genesis 15:1-6], Abraham is an immigrant, and he has these big dreams. But he doesn't even have a son. He says, "Lord, what am I going to do? Why should I leave for a new place?" God said it was going to work out. He told him to look up at the stars: "So shall your descendents be."
This image from Trinidad of poor people around a table is telling us the same. Life is hard. They are looking for encouragement, for hope like those stars. Some of us have it, some of us don't. Those who have it are tempted in pride to say, "I got this by my own strength." That is a lie, people, and that is why were are here today seeking God's grace. Every one of us struggles with that proud lie. We need the grace of God to help us say, "Our Father in heaven," and not just, "My Father." So we can say, "Give us this day our daily bread," not just "my bread."
At the table in Trinidad, they are probably talking about who has need, and who is able to help with that need. Every once in a while, someone should take us outside on a starry night and say, "Look at the heavens. The stars are all yours. Don't be afraid to give."
A college-age daughter of a family I know spent a summer in Kenya, and she let me share this e-mail letter. "I said goodbye to my Kenyan host family today. I had a mixed experience with them. … In this culture, family is more necessary for economic survival. When one person in the extended family has money, all of the others expect to be helped. I just happen to be the richest of this extended family, so there are things expected of me that I, culturally, have a hard time accepting."
She wonders if the family took her in only for material benefit. They continually ask her for things. "Every inch of my being resents being asked," she says, and the struggle "ripped me apart." I see her in that group around the table in Trinidad. Who has much and can help? I know her feelings, and you do as well.
The beauty of her letter is that it's about growth. Our Christian faith makes us people who are arriving, not people who have gotten there. In a culture of wealth and inheritance like ours, we should be talking about this between generations. We try to do this at our school. Who can help? Who has need? Our Gospel [Luke 12: 32-40] today is about walking by faith. And we don't know where the journey ends up.

Next week: a homily by the Rev. Edward Hathaway at St. John's Catholic Church in McLean, Va.

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