This week’s sermon is posted with #Episcopal in honor of #SocialMediaSunday:

“It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher …” Jesus said that in last week’s gospel. And I think early Christians took him pretty much at his word.
As near as I can tell, early Christians simply wanted to follow “The Way.” By which they meant they wanted to live the way Jesus lived. They wanted to follow his example.
Most of them didn’t care too much for theological explanations. And, frankly, there was no settled theology for them to follow. What it meant to be a Christian, theologically, was still very much up in the air. So they simply followed Jesus.
Which, frankly, sounds a lot like what Jesus is talking about in this morning’s gospel.
Whoever welcomes you – I hear, if you are following my example and teaching – welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me – the one Jesus calls Abba God.
Whoever listens to a prophet and welcomes them as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward. I hear, whoever hears a prophetic voice from God, and responds in a way that welcomes God’s message into their life, receives a prophet’s reward. That is, if you are open enough to hear the message, which probably calls on you to change the life you’ve been living, and act on the prophet’s message in your life – and what else would it mean, really, to welcome a prophet – receives a prophet’s reward.
The same thing holds if you welcome any righteous person. What else would it mean, to really receive them, but to start to have your life shaped by God’s righteousness as it is lived out in their lives. Christians model their lives on Jesus – who is their teacher. If you welcome that model into your life, your life will be shaped by Jesus too. And whoever truly welcomes you will find that their life is shaped by Jesus too.
Isn’t that how it works?

If I understand correctly, early Christians tried to follow Jesus’ example in two fundamental ways.
One of them was martyrdom – in a way that probably doesn’t make all that much sense to us today. Jesus gave his life for us. The ultimate in following Jesus’ example, for them, was to give one’s own life for Jesus. People actually looked forward to receiving the crown of martyrdom as the final, irrevocable proof that they were true followers of Jesus. It was a prize, sometimes, they seemed to actively seek!
Today’s gospel doesn’t seem to be about that.
The second way they followed Jesus was in the practice of a radical hospitality – not just to their own community, but to strangers, poor people, foreigners …
Jesus seems to have been willing to feed anyone who came to hear him. Jesus seems to have been willing to heal all sorts and conditions of men and women – whether or not they were Jews or gentiles, men or women, respectable or outcast …
Christians seemingly tried to do the same.
There is a letter from a Roman governor during this period that complains Christians were not only taking care of their own people, but reaching out to all the disadvantaged and needy and making inroads into other, non Christian, communities …
At a time when most people could not rely on eating their next meal, in a climate where water was scarce and travelers had to depend upon others for food and drink, in a society where almost anyone could lose everything at the drop of a hat …
Christians fed and gave water, as near as I can tell, to anyone who asked of them.
There seems to have been some expectation that people would work for what they received if they were able, and if there was work for them to do.
But Christians seemed willing to provide hospitality to anyone.
Maybe that’s what Jesus is talking about when he says that “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
When we imitate Jesus, when we live the way he did, when we give of ourselves to help the least among us in their need, Jesus tells us we will not lose our reward.
There’s nothing fancy about it.
It’s not complicated.
When we follow Jesus, when we help those in need, when we give freely of ourselves …
It really doesn’t take much.
Even a cup of water, given in this way, shows us to be true followers of our Lord and Saviour.

I say this to you in the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. Amen.