Online Service 22nd November 2020
Welcome to the Service for the Sunday before Advent: Also available via YouTube
Morning Prayer for the Feast of Christ the King From St Andrew’s Church,
Burnham on Sea on the 22nd November
We meet in the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen
O Lord, open our lips
All: and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.
The Word of God
Let us pray: Holy Spirit be our teacher as we explore our scripture readings, awaken our hearts, expand our minds and shape our identities this day.
R The Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods.
1 Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great king above all gods. R
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land. R
6 Come, let us bow down and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. R
All Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew. (Matt 25vv 31 – end)
Jesus said to his disciples: 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.’
A Hymn is sung
Meditation by John Page
May the words of my mouth and the inspiration of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, my Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
A young police cadet is taking his final exam. He is asked this question:
“You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street.
On investigation you find a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby.
Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants, a man and a woman, are injured. You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief Constable, who is at present in the States.
A passing motorist stops to offer assistance and you realize that he is a man wanted for armed robbery. Then, suddenly, a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has started the birth. Another man shouts for help, having been blown in the river by the explosion, and he cannot swim.
Describe in a few words what you would do.”
The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote,
“I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”
I feel a bit like that when I am asked to preach into a ‘phone or on a difficult passage.
This parable is difficult, because it seems to preach a gospel of salvation by works, while New Testament teaching is that salvation is by grace alone
Paul says: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So what is the parable about?
The key to this parable is the nature of the sheep and the nature of the goat
In Israel, in Jesus’s day, it was difficult to tell the sheep from the goats. They look very similar.
The difference however is in their nature. A commentator wrote that the earliest animals to be domesticated were sheep and goats. They are very common in the Middle East and the Hebrew language is particularly rich in vocabulary that distinguishes sheep according to sex and age. Our ancestors in the faith were impressed that sheep suffer in silence. They compared men to sheep and considered suffering in silence to be the sign of a real man. Sheep, believe it or not, came to symbolize honour, virility, and strength.
Goats were considered lusty, promiscuous animals. Unlike rams, goats allow other males access to their females. Goats came to symbolize shame and shameful behaviour.
Goats were regarded as “armed robbers who would jump over people’s fences and destroy their plants”
Although sheep and goats both belong to the category of small cattle called tzon in Hebrew, there is a marked difference in the grazing habits of each species.
Sheep crop at an even height several centimetres above ground level. The goat, on the other hand, not only crops much closer to the ground, but also tears leaves, buds and fruit off trees. Even now, goats are still kept in large numbers by the Bedouin and cause great damage to natural woods by chewing the young shoots, thereby preventing them from growing to full height.
The sheep then, came to represent those who are Disciples of Christ and Christlike qualities come out in their relationship with others.
Put simply, following Christ is not following a set of rules, it is having a new nature. We become changed people. Theologically we are being changed daily, if we are true disciples of Christ. We become more of a "holy people".
What do I mean by a holy people? People who are dedicated to following Christ.
The goat represents those who have decided not to follow Christ.
Jesus gave us two great rules to govern life in our society. The first was this. To
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.
The second was to “Love your neighbour as yourself”
The sheep in the parable didn’t even realise that they were serving Christ by feeding the hungry and thirsty. It was simply in their nature to do so.
The challenge for us today, especially in these Covid times, is not to struggle to do good, but to allow the Holy Spirit to change our lives. Doing good, helping others, will then come naturally. Even or especially, in the small things, like a ‘phone call, for those are the things we recall with gratitude. The things that make a difference to many aspects of our lives. Things that Christ’s sheep do naturally, by nature.
We can’t on our own, change from being goats to being sheep. But by following Christ we can. If we are ready to follow. After all, He is our King and who would refuse to follow such a king?
I’m happy to be a sheep – are you?
Let us pray for the Church and for the world and let us thank God for his goodness. As we enter into prayer now may we be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre our scattered senses upon the presence of God.
We pray for the people, nations and churches (pause)
We pray for our local church and for Bishop Peter and his family at this time (pause)
Finally, we pray for our families and homes and this community. (pause)
We name before God those friends and family who we love but no longer see (pause)
The Collect for Christ the King
Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer is said – please join in
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
All Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The Lord bless us, and preserve us from all evil,
and keep us in eternal life.
Let us bless the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.
A Hymn may be played
© The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England, 2000-2005 - Filepath/Morning Prayer/Church Opening file/July 2020(REVISED)