The Least of These

By Amy Norton
November 19, 2020 - 4:12pm

This week's lectionary passage is perhaps one of the more familiar chapters of Jesus' teachings, where he reveals to his followers that "whatever you did for one of the least of these siblings of mine, you did for me". We often think of the "least of these" as those 'less fortunate' than us. Those who are poorer than us, more oppressed than us, more hated than us. We know that heeding this call can be dangerous and can even get us in big legal trouble

I see United Parish live out this call in so many ways; our Thanksgiving Meal is a great example of how we tend to those who need food, water, shelter, and company, meeting Jesus in their midst. 


And yet.

When I saw Dave Chappelle's opening monologue on Saturday Night Live earlier this month, it got me thinking about who we cast as the "least of these". When I asked that question of myself, I realized that it's often those who are poor because they were exploited by capitalism, those who are in prison for non-violent offenses, those who are homeless due to mental illness, addiction, or plain bad luck. In my imperfect heart, I cast these characters as grateful, harmless, and sympathetic. Characters that most, if not all, progressive audiences would perceive as "deserving".

But what about the bigots? What about the violent offenders? What about those who are poor because they lost a civil suit for wrongful death after they were acquitted in their criminal trial for a hate crime? What about those who, when we're not at our best or most in step with God, we see as "less than" us? Do we ever cast them as the "least of these", the siblings in whom we meet Jesus? 

What would it look like, what would it feel like, to help people who we think don't deserve it? Chappelle gives the example of buying your neighborhood drug dealer an ice cream cone. What else could it look like? 


Join us for worship on our YouTube channel this Sunday at 11am to imagine, stretch, give thanks, and worship together! 


In faith, 



If you'd like to watch, read or listen to previous sermons, click here.

To watch previous worship services, visit our YouTube page.

We heartily invite you to join us in some other ways to connect during the week (all Zoom info in the Friday newsletter)

  • Church School Classes at 9:45am on Zoom - register here if you haven't already!
  • Adult Drop-In Bible Study, Sundays from 10:00-10:45am on Zoom -- reflect with others on the scripture passage for worship. Learn more.
  • Sunday Coffee Hour: after worship, around 12pm on Zoom. Check your email for details. 
  • Tuesday Evening Prayers: 8:45-9:00pm, 15 minutes of peace via Zoom. Learn more.
  • Thursday Morning Meditation: 8:00-8:30am on Zoom. Details here.
  • Sanctuary Prayer Times: by appointment only. Monday through Friday 8:00am to 3:30pm, and Monday and Wednesday evenings. Please schedule a week in advance by contacting the Church Office at or 617-277-6860.