Sunday 22 November Christ the King

This Sunday we celebrate the end of the Churches’ year with the Feast of Christ the King.

There will be no public worship due to the current government restrictions. However, on Saturday All Saints’ will be open for private prayer from 10am – 12noon and Holy Trinity from 10am – 4pm. You can also leave donations for the Open Westbury Food Project.

We will hold a service of Morning Praise on Zoom at 9.45 for a 10am start. The service will be led by Rev’d Rebecca Harris with Graham Stevensen, LLM. Please contact us for details of how to join us or sign up for our e-newsletter on this page.

Collect for Christ the King

God the Father;
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
one God, one glory. Amen

Ezekiel 34: 11 – 16

11 For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12 As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.

Psalm 95: 1 – 7

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
    and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
    the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
    let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!

Ephesians 1: 15 – end

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Matthew 25: 31 – end

31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” 44 Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Reflection

As Matthew completes his series of parables, we remember that Matthew’s purpose is try and help his reader to understand the Kingdom of God. I don’t know about you, but I have always found this reading fairly terrifying! I think I must have sat in some sermons or had someone say to me that I was destined for hell or eternal punishment. Not a pleasant prospect!

I do believe, however, that this parable is a warning, but perhaps not in the way it has sometimes been used. I’m sure you have heard me say that we always test what we read against the two commandments that Jesus gave us, we ask “how does this passage help me to love God? and how does it help me to love my neighbour?” We also remember that parables tend to work on several different levels at the same time! At first glance, the answer to the question about loving my neighbour is easily answered leading us into the idea that we will win favour by doing good deeds. Good deeds to those in need, good deeds to those in the flock. And, in contrast, those who do not tend to the needs of others will be lost to eternal punishment. You can understand how fear can be developed here.

But what if the parable isn’t about doing good deeds as such, but more about what our hearts are like as we do them? So, asking ourselves: what motivates us to do all this? Is it fear, pride, envy, insecurity? Are we motivated to do good works because of the expected reward, a place in heaven or recognition in the church community or perhaps even greater recognition? Or is it because you saw the need and could do something to help?

Sheep and goats in the Middle East tend to look very similar, in this parable is it possible that we are being encouraged to check the motivations of our own hearts? God our Father knows what and why we do the things we do. Here we are being nudged into a more generous way of loving, a way of living that will help us to participate more fully in God’s Kingdom so that every person regardless of race, creed, ability, age, sexuality or gender can experience the love of God through the kindness of others. We often sing the words to this song, let us make it our prayer.

Brother, sister let me serve you.
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Grace and peace,

Rev’d Caroline Husband, Team Vicar