Let us pray.
Dear Lord, grant me the strength to preach here this afternoon and let your words be heard on this, the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
Yes, we're going to have a sermon on Sunday, on Sunday, the tenth - the eleventh - of November.
Yes! Yes, I have the strength to do this! My Gospel is from the book of Luke.
For two thousand years, these words have inspired many Christians. In 1200 A.D, thereabout, a young man, in Italy, kneeling before a crucifix, an icon, in a vision, heard the icon speak to him. It said "Francis, rebuild my church". He looked around him at this crumbling church that had been built hundreds of years before, went home to his father's shop, took his father's best silks and a horse, went to a market town, sold the silks, sold the horse, came back and gave the money to the priest to rebuild the church.
His father was not too happy with that.
In many ways, it was a typical message from God - simple, powerful, and very easy to misunderstand.
So I beg your indulgence if my words today are a little bit difficult to understand, but, this is what I feel that we are called to, and that I am called to, by God.
Francis started going around Italy and preaching. Ultimately, he founded the Franciscan order and rebuilt a church that had become corrupted with greed, money, the Crusades, power politics. He turned it back to God; he turned it back, told his followers "they shall have no coins or money"; they would give all their possessions to the poor, why?, well, we read it here in this Gospel - "give to everyone who asks you".
Now, that's just for saints, right? It's not for you and me.
No. Saints are not here just to do the heavy lifting while we sit around with the little one pound jogging weights. Saints are here to guide us, and teach us, and show us the way forward - "give to anyone who asks of you".
In Matthew 25, Christ goes on again with this theme. He tells us that if someone comes to us hungry, and we do not feed him, then we are not feeding Christ, and whenever we fail to do to the least of these, we have failed to do to him.
And this is an amazing concept! Does it mean that if a Christian walks into McDonald's, or Subway, and doesn't have any money, and is turned away hungry, that, well, yeah! You're turning away Christ!
And here we begin to see the wickedness and indifference of capitalism. No, the capitalists teach us, we will not do what we are taught in the book of Luke. We will not give to everyone who asks. We will stand behind a counter and refuse to do anything for anyone unless we're getting something out of it for ourselves.
It is a rejection of the Christian Gospel, and it is facilitated by an indifferent freedom where people just sit around, pray to their God, go to their church, but the commandments are simply optional. We do them, we don't do them, but that's not what we're taught. We're taught to give to anyone who asks of us.
So, does that mean that if someone is working a job, I mean, just do what the boss tells them to do! Well, if someone comes in the door, and asks, and you turn them away, you are turning away Christ!
Some people look to a tithe. They look for ten percent; they will give ten percent to charity, ten percent to the church. The problem with that is it is an Old Testament concept, and it is not what we are taught here in Luke. In Luke we are told to give to everyone who asks.
The Glory Hole, here on Franklin Street, is the only restaurant in this entire city that actually conducts themselves according to the Christian Gospel. And yet we call ourselves a Christian nation!
Why, you ask, would anyone come here with a microphone and drag all of this out on the tenth anniversary of September 11th?
The terrorists ten years ago did not choose their targets at random.
The World Trade Center was a symbol of capitalism. It was a symbol of a nation that, blessed with fantastic wealth, will sit behind a counter with a smug look and say, "How about a job?"
...and some people, driven to some kind of rage, decided to hijack these airliners and murder three thousand people.
That certainly doesn't seem to be a very Christian alternative, again, the Gospel of Luke: "Love your enemies."
There's another commandment, thousands of years older, not printed in red but carved in stone, "Thou shall not kill"! So terrorism seems to be out of the question.
What then do we do? Do we just see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? Remain indifferent when faced with an immoral society that has turned away from the Christian Gospel?
That doesn't seem like a very good idea.
No, Francis had the right idea. Francis... Ahab, when Elijah was called to preach to Ahab... when Moses was called to preach to Pharaoh... when Jesus told the Pharisees about their wickedness...
Preach! That is the answer! Not terrorism; not indifference; we are called to preach the Gospel! That is the true answer to 9/11! To preach!
No! Capitalism is immoral! We are called upon to give to everyone who begs of us! There is no exception if you're running a business! There's no exception if it's just your job! It is not optional! It is a commandment from God!