St. Mary's Church

Christ the King

Christ the King

21 Nov 2020 • General news

Ezekiel 34. 11-16, 20-24

God, the True Shepherd

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.

20 Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, 22 I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

23 I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

Ephesians 1. 15-end

Paul’s Prayer

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward 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[b] 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

The Judgement of the Nations

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,[a] 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.’

Sermon Thoughts for the Feast of Christ the King

It’s strange how our preaching Rota works. I preached on the feast of Christ the King last year - in St Mary’s; at a time when the words COVID-19 were unknown, when we were looking forward to our usual mix of chaos and celebration during Advent and into the Christmas Season, where masks and social distancing were unknown and we could meet our friends and go to the theatre or a concert or down the pub; when we could easily accommodate 70 or more people in St Mary’s on a Sunday and natter over coffee for half an hour afterwards.

That world feels like a lifetime ago. I feel it is important to acknowledge that. This year has been strange, at times just surreal; sometimes very scary and certainly 2020 will be in our memories for a lot of reasons.

We have not been able to mark our major Christian festivals in Church this year, and that has felt, certainly to me, as though I have missed something I had always taken for granted.

The Feast of Christ the King is an annual reminder that Christ is more than the human Jesus we read about in the Gospels, and it is the last major feast of the Anglican Church Calendar, as the Christian New Year begins next week on Advent Sunday. As I pondered what I was going to write to you all this morning, I began to think about whether we can take Christs’ divinity for granted. When we focus on the Gospel passages, we often think about Jesus the man, how he interacted with those around him; cared for people; challenged people and how his life, with its ups and downs can be an encouragement to us, through all of our various joys and challenges.

Before last year, the Feast of Christ the King was not one that was familiar to me, but I was surprised to find out that this Feast was only incorporated into the Anglican Church Calendar in the year 2000, and into the Catholic Calendar in 1925 - less than a century ago. It was instituted to allow people a time to focus on Jesus’ divinity at a time other than Easter and Ascension Day, when Europe was going through a process of overthrowing various Monarchies for elected Presidents, here was Jesus showing the right way to treat Kingship and power in general.

The readings for today focus on Christ in his glory, sitting at the right hand of God, separating the people as one separates the sheep from the goats. Sitting there in heaven, Christ sees and hears everything - those words we say out loud and those in our hearts.

I find this reading from St Matthew’s Gospel really challenging. It forces me to think from my position of comfort, and causes me to look more closely around me to those less fortunate. I do not class myself as rich, not in the eyes of our capitalist society certainly, but I have food and shelter, warm clothes, a stable income and a loving family and some wonderful friends. If the last few months have reinforced lessons into my heart, then it is that though I can lament and cry out to God when I am struggling, when those I care about are sick and dying. I still must find space for hope, and to give thanks for all the blessings I have in life.

We all may know people less fortunate than ourselves, I have several friends who have lost jobs over the last few months, and others who are struggling to keep their business afloat. There are increasing numbers of people relying on our local food bank and others in our city, struggling to feed themselves and their family, and no doubt facing the difficult decision between buying electricity or gas on their pre-paid card to keep the heat and lights on in the house or buying food.

Jesus came into the world as our Shepherd, to guide the people back into a right way of life, a new covenant with God. The prophecy from Ezekiel is a wonderful picture and reminds me of the parable of the Lost Sheep (see Matthew Chapter 18 and Luke Chapter 15), where the Shepherd goes off in to search for that one sheep who lost their way - and then rejoices on finding them and bringing them safely home. We are called to be Jesus’ eyes and ears, hands and hearts on earth, to be missionary people enabling those we meet to encounter God through us.

This may feel more difficult now, but we still can and should tap into the power of prayer. To hear the word of God, to draw those we know - and those we don’t know - into his presence with our prayers and to be a listening people, ready to receive a message from God and to act on it.

Our reading from Ephesians, encourages us to pray, that like those Christians in Ephesus, we might be given a Spirit of wisdom and enabled to know God more closely.

It isn’t always easy to find that time in our strange and chaotic world to pray, to build on our relationship with God, but my hope is that we each may find ourselves called closer to Christ, as we spend the next few weeks of Advent in preparation - preparing our hearts and mind, as well as our houses for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

This Christmas season won’t be like those we have known in the last few years, but we can use the example of our brothers and sisters of other Faiths, who have celebrated their own major festivals in lockdown, and used it as an opportunity to continue to celebrate, praise and be thankful for all the blessings of life. So we should remember that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to refugees far away from home; that he lived, not as a Prince in this world, but as a travelling teacher and preacher, supported by friends who helped with food and other provisions he needed, and that he, who died the painful and humiliating death of crucifixion, rose again and offers us all the hope of a life with him, in glory.

Amen.

Intercessions for the Feast of Christ the King 22nd November 2020

Bless the Church, Lord, the Body of Christ, and make her worthy to claim Jesus as her head. At this time of pandemic we bring before you clergy who are working on how to reach people at Christmas time; may they be good shepherds of their flocks, faithful in word and works. We pray too for our bishops, especially Christopher and John, and all who lead the church that they may find ways to encourage the people of their dioceses.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Spread through the world the spirit of love and care. We pray for those living and working in the care homes of this country. May they be kept safe and given the respect which they deserve. Bless those who work to relieve suffering both in our hospitals and in the development of a vaccine against Covid19.May their work be successful and provide hope to a world anxious for a workable way forward. Bring the nations to acknowledge Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords, working through the hands of those who seek to bring about a better world.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Inspire our community with concern for those in need. We remember those who are remaining indoors to keep safe. May they find comfort and human contact through the care of friends and family. Help us to spread to our neighbours and those with whom we work the good news of Christ as Lord.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Have mercy on all who are in want of food or drink or clothing, the sick and those in prison. As the demand for food banks has increased, may we be generous in our efforts to help and grateful for the things that we have and often take for granted. Through human hands, bring the relief that comes from your love and power.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

We pray for those who have been called from this world to be with Christ. Especially we pray for the family of Cheryl Wilkinson whose cremated remains are to be buried at St Mary’s tomorrow. By Christ’s kingship of the living and the dead, grant her and all who have died, rest.

Lord in your mercy

Hear our prayer

Merciful father

Accept these prayers

For the sake of your Son

Our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Tuesday

Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Nov 24, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89920959135?pwd=R0MrWkx2...

Meeting ID: 899 2095 9135

Passcode: MP2411

Thursday

Malcolm Tyler is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Morning Prayer

Time: Nov 26, 2020 09:30 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83799233985?pwd=VWcyL2Rv...

Meeting ID: 837 9923 3985

Passcode: MP2611