whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Psalm 95 v 1 – 7
1O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.
2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving
and be glad in him with psalms.
3For the Lord is a great God
and a great king above all gods.
4In his hand are the depths of the earth
and the heights of the mountains are his also.
5The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands have moulded the dry land.
6Come, let us worship and bow down
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
7For he is our God.
A Reading from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians ch.1 v 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.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew ch 25 v31 – end
‘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.’
A Reflection from Fr Guy
“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.’”
In Matthew’s Gospel today Jesus tells a story of judgement: the king sits on his throne and, as the nations are brought before him, he separates the righteous from the evil as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. The judgement when it is pronounced is a revelation to all those concerned. Both those who are welcomed and those who are punished are shocked to discover that in their serving or ignoring the hungry and thirsty, the sick and naked, the stranger and prisoner they were in fact serving or ignoring him. We can imagine the indignation of those who are dismissed from his presence: if only you had come to us as king, we would have shown you the deference, the honour, the respect you deserved; we did not recognise you!
The king says to the righteous: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family [literally, ‘my brothers’], you did it to me.” Is Jesus, the king, judging the nations on their response to his disciples (his “brothers”) or to all those in need? Whether he is identifying himself here with his disciples or with all suffering people, the central fact remains: the king is not the invulnerable, distant ruler demanding respect and honour, but one with his people in their poverty and powerlessness.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus spent his time with the poor, the sick, the outcasts and strangers. He showed love and compassion to them, but, more than that, he identified himself with them. Ironically, he is finally revealed as the true king on the cross: stripped of all power and dignity, here he identifies completely with weak, sinful and desperate humanity. Yet, as the early Christians put it: “the king rules from the tree”.
If Jesus, the king, revealed his kingship in solidarity with his powerless and suffering people, both identifying with them and showing them his compassion, so it will be with his true disciples. They, too, can expect to be poor and persecuted, mocked and rejected. It is not honour, status, riches and power that will identify them as followers of the king, but their willingness both to suffer with him and welcome and serve those in need as he did.
I’m sure we’ve all heard people name-drop in conversations, drawing attention to their connection to someone rich or famous. Perhaps we have done it ourselves. We all like a little power and glory even if it comes through our relationship to someone else. Power can be mesmerising and perhaps, whether we think of ourselves as powerful or not, there is a potential love of power in all of us.
Our association with Christ the King, however, works differently. We are not called to bask in his glory, but to join with him in spending ourselves in love. His kingship is based on the power of love rather than the love of power. From his birth in poverty to his shameful death on the cross he identified fully with his people in their need; his kingship is revealed in compassion, forgiveness, and love.
Can we recognise him in the poor, the powerless, the unloved, those we may be tempted to walk past without seeing, and embody in our own lives the power of his suffering love and humble compassion? The king is among us: may we both see him and be him in the most unlikely situations.
Intercessions by Colin Tincknell
Dear Lord, your son taught us to persevere in prayer and not to grow weary of trying. We are reminded of the widow who cried to an unjust judge day after day until her request was granted. Help us to pray for others and intercede on their behalf not only thinking of ourselves.
We pray for the world-wide church where there is poverty, sickness, war, and cruelty. We pray for those who seek to serve those in desperate need abroad and in our own country and locality.
We continue to pray for our world. You gave us a perfect world but much of our selfish activity is destroying the planet. We ask for your forgiveness and renew our efforts to avoid pollution and destruction of habitat of those animals whose very existence is threatened.
Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.
We pray for all governments and those in positions of authority. For politicians that they may act fairly, justly and without favour in the interests of all, for business leaders that they may treat workers with respect and fair wages.
Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.
We pay for all who work in the NHS. For the nurses who provide so much care, love and compassion working long hours to ensure that the NHS can continue to function. We pray for their safety at a time when Covid-19 is still a threat as they think of their own families and the risks this poses. We pray that nurses may be fairly paid for their essential work.
We pray that a vaccine may soon be available to fight Covid-19 and that when this is available distribution will be fair and just. We pray for those working to produce a safe and tested vaccine.
Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.
Lord we pray for all schools, colleges, and universities as they seek to provide education for their students. We pray that teachers and lecturers may inspire a love of the you and an appreciation of all the beauty, truth and real goodness that is in our world.
We pray for those in all places of education where they are fighting with the Covid-19 pandemic that they may know your presence. We pray that university students may be able to return home for the Christmas period in safety.
We pay for our own church school of St John’s. That the church presence at St John’s may be enhanced and that Fr Guy can provide vital support to teachers and students at this time of stress.
Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer
We pray for all at St John’s and our community. Especially today we pray for the residents of Thicket Mead and Sunny Mead. We pray for Fr Guy’s ministry with us. We pay that Fr Guy and Kate may be happy and fulfilled in their work and that they receive all the support, love and respect we can provide.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
We pay for the sick, those at home or in hospital. Those who have been involved in accidents and those nearing the end of their lives receiving palliative care. We pray for those known to us through our prayer list:- Rachael Macfarlane, Miranda Cooper, Rose Stenner, Paul & Margaret Knott, Irene Leet, Fr Roy Boots, Nicholas Hambleton, Betty Chiplin, Ethan Horwood, John Lewis, Patricia Flagg, Pat Gilham, Bishop Peter Hancock, Vince Marriot, Pam Lamb
and those who are known perhaps to us alone. We pray for all in nursing homes and care centres.
We pray for all who have died recently and those whose years mind occur at this time. That they may rest in heaven in a better place.
Trevor Bell who died last Sunday and (T) Bryan Carver, Alexander Denning, Tom Greenaway (Th) Ann Harris (Benefactress), (F) Vera Hobbs, Torin Moon, Alan Presley (S) Leonard Chiplin.
Lord in your mercy – Hear our prayer.
We pray that we may be good neighbours and thank those who are providing support to people unable to leave home due to the pandemic. Lord Jesus we know that you are ever near. Help us to know that you are by our side to give us strength when we are tempted, and wisdom when we are in doubt. Help us to offer each day to you and that everything we do may be to your glory and reflect your love. In doing your work we are doing your will and that in serving others, we are serving you.
Accept these prayers, for the sake of you Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen