November is drawing on, and with it the Church’s year is drawing to a close.
Next week is Advent Sunday and our annual cycle begins again. In the coming weeks our attention will be drawn to a babe in a manger. Then, on Good Friday, we shall see that child, now a man, battered and broken. Easter, and the resurrection with all its glory still draws us to the cross, now empty. Today, before we turn our eyes towards Bethlehem once more, we are shown where it all leads. Manger, cross, empty tomb; today we are reminded that Christ is King. A biblical king had absolute authority under God.
This week’s Gospel looks to the Final Judgement, through the well-known story of the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matt 25:31-46). Our eternal future, Jesus tells, is shaped by how we respond to him when we meet him here and now. There are many ways we do this; prayer, worship and study of God’s word to name but 3. Here, none of this is mentioned; but then a king would take it for granted that his loyal subjects would turn out to worship him in his palace. The real distinction between sheep and goats is seen in our ability to see and respond when he is not in his royal robes. Feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned; we are called to care for the least of his family, as if caring for the king himself.
This brings me to next week and Advent. Advent is a season of preparation; both for our commemoration of Jesus’ birth and for his return. How does the birth we are soon to celebrate shape our lives today, and going forward? This year, more than usual, there are many in need; not just of material help but of companionship, a listening ear, a warm touch. Christ is king. As we turn to prepare for the coming of our king; will we notice him when he passes incognito; will we play our part in meeting his need, even, perhaps especially, in the least of his brothers and sisters?
Rev Philip Payne
This week’s Pew Sheet with details of services for the coming week can be found in Downloads