Ephesians 1. 15 - end
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 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, 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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 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, 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. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Matthew 25. 31- end
Jesus said, ‘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. 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, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 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; 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, 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.” 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? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 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.” 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; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 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.” 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?” 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.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
Scripture Quotations are from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
By Joe, Reader at St Mary's.
May I speak in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit –
please be seated.
Once again we come to the end of the Church year, with the feast of
Christ the King. It’s a relatively recent addition to the Church
calendar, and was only added to the Western liturgical calendar in
1925, when it was celebrated in October, and was only moved to it’s
current position on the last day of the Liturgical Year as late as 1969.
It might seem strange to us to think that it took the Church 1900
years before it actually got around to adding the celebration to the
liturgical calendar, but that’s the way it was; whilst Christians
acknowledged Christ as King of Creation, the institutional Church just
took it’s time recognising it formally. 1925 was a lull in the
apocalyptic happenings of the first half of the 20 th Century; between
WW1 - the ‘War to end all Wars’ – and WW2, when we finally got to
a point where the horrific murderous and destructive potential of
humanity in terms of the Holocaust and Hiroshima was realised. But
1925 was also the year when Mussolini came to power in Italy – ‘Il
Duce’ – ‘The Leader’ – and perhaps this finally pushed the Roman
Catholic Church to take action and bring a celebration of the coming
of the Kingdom of God to be more ‘up front’ in the Church calendar.
Today’s readings both have elements of Eschatology in them….they
are about what we as Christians can expect at the end of all earthly
In his letter to the Ephesian Church, Paul is explaining what is to
come for the faithful.
“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, 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
Christ will be King - not just in the world they know, and in their time,
but everywhere and forever.
Paul’s audience would have great experience of the power of kings
and emperors – after all, the Roman Empire was the superpower of
the day and it’s quite likely that most people saw the Kingdom of
God as a big and different version of the Empire – and they probably
felt it would arrive in a similar way – through battle. But Paul tells
them ‘No, God has raised Jesus from the dead, and He is already
ruling. The job is done.’
Our Gospel reading from Matthew describes that final Judgement,
and it always makes me realise that there is a darker side about the
eventual total coming of the Kingdom. After the coming…what
then? What will happen to those who have turned away from God,
who have rebelled against his authority, who haven’t even been
reasonable human beings – the least we could be expected to be.
Being cast in to eternal punishment must surely make all of us a little
nervous at the very least.
When we look at what is expected – to doesn’t seem a hard hurdle
to jump. We hear the righteous being told:
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave
me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and
you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and
you came to me.”
And they’re somewhat confused. They have no recollection of ever
having done such things for the King who sits in Judgement over
them. But then He clarifies it:
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my
family, you did it to me”
How hard is it for us at least attempt to reach out to those around us
to offer help and compassion? We are simply being asked to love our
neighbours in the same way that our King loves us.
And those who could not manage this are facing judgement. The
ones who never reached out a hand to feed and clothe others. Those
who ignored those lives were limited by any sort of imprisonment.
Those who failed to care for the sick; those who failed to look upon
their brothers and sisters without compassion.
“Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these,
you did not do it to me”
We need to avoid thinking of these ‘terms of judgement’ in purely
literal terms. That’s too simplistic; the Kingdom of God is a kingdom
where we will experience the Judgement but also the mercy and
grace of God. But we are expected to go at least part of the way and
do what we can to live in a Christ-like manner.
The coming of the Kingdom of God is not something that has
happened in the past or will happen in the future; it’s not tied to
time in our understanding of past, present and future. It’s happening
now; it’s a process, not an event. God’s Kingdom is coming in to
being with every person who joins the Church, with every act of
compassion or charity, every time we carry out an act of mercy or
justice, every time we show or experience grace.
This is where we come in; we’re the boots on the ground, the hands
offering help, the voices for the voiceless, the compassionate heart,
working to bring the Kingdom closer.
It’s our duty to challenge and resist all that is contrary to God’s will
and rule. This might be at the personal level – are we charitable; are
we just; are we merciful? Or it might be in matters of government
and political life; do our leaders work for peace; do they work for
justice; are they merciful?
Dietrich Boenhoffer once said “Politics are not the task of a
Christian."; And he is right; for us Christians, politics boils down to
the very basic proposition of ‘Is this action or belief supportive of the
coming of the Kingdom of God?’ If it is not, we have no choice but to
act in our capacity as priests in the Kingdom and work to bring the
Kingdom closer by speaking out.
Boenhoffer also said “One's task is not to turn the world upside
down, but to do what is necessary at the given place and with a due
consideration of reality."
And as our reading from Matthew reveals, doing what is necessary
for the Kingdom of God – and for our own place within that Kingdom
– can be as simple as acts of charity – feeding the hungry, nursing the
sick, welcoming the stranger, clothing the poor, visiting the prisoner.
Recognising Christ in others. What Hannah Arendt called ‘the
banality of evil’ starts when we DON’T recognise Christ in our fellow
people, but when we start treating them as ‘the other’ and stop
thinking of them as brothers and sisters of our same Father.
We are human; we work with our human limitations, our personal
sins, our abilities. It’s highly unlikely that any of us here today will
turn the world upside down in our priestly duties. But it is within our
abilities and our priestly duties to do what we can do within our lives
and circles of influence to bring God’s Kingdom closer.
This isn’t always easy, but Matthew’s gospel shows what we are
likely to experience when we come to our final judgement. Have we
seen and served the Christ in each other? For that is all that we are
called to do as priests of God, helping to usher in His Kingdom.
Prepared by Barbara.
In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father.
O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for people in every kind of need; make your ways known on
earth, your saving health among all nations ...
We pray for all those affected by war or tyrannical regimes, thinking particularly of people in Ukraine,
Russia, the Gaza Strip and Israel. Please bring strength and comfort to all those affected and help every one
of us to be part of a path to peace throughout the world.
We pray for all those affected by shortage of suitable housing, both here in the UK and abroad. Please help
us to recognise the importance of providing housing for everyone especially as winter approaches. Help us
to consider donating to charities that support those who are struggling and help us to consider possible
solutions when casting votes in both local and general elections.
We pray also for all those involved in trying to fight the climate crisis, especially those taking part in COP 28
in Dubai this coming week. Please give all governments the political courage to resist further use of fossil
fuels and to invest in sources of renewable energy instead.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.
We pray for your Church throughout the world; guide and govern us by your good Spirit, that all who
profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit,
in the bond of peace and in righteousness of life ...
We pray especially for our worshipping community of St. John’s Ranmoor, St. Mark’s Broomhill and St.
Mary’s Walkley as we celebrate Christ the King and look forward to the season of advent. We pray for your
promise of peace on earth.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.
We commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any way afflicted or distressed, in mind, body
or estate; comfort and relieve them in their need, give them patience in their sufferings, and bring good out
of their troubles ...
We pray for all those caught up in waiting lists for health care. Please bring them healing and future good
In moments of peace and contemplation, we name to you all those known to us who are suffering. Please
care for them and for all those of whose suffering we are unaware.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.
We remember those who have gone before us in the peace of Christ, and we give you praise for all your
faithful ones, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints ...
We name to you in our hearts all those known to us both near and far who are suffering the loss of friends
and loved ones, asking that you bring your comfort and healing to them at this time of grief.
Merciful Father, Accept these prayers for the sake of your only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is used here is copyright (c) 2010 The Archbishops' Council