Sunday 22 November 2020

Christ the King
The Sunday next before Advent



1st hymn, Crown Him with Many Crowns

Westminster Abbey (with Lyrics)

Written by Matthew Bridges (1800-94) and set to the hymn tune,

DIADEMATA, composed by George Elvey (1816-93).


Collect of the Day

Eternal Father,
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.

Amen


The first lesson is from the prophet Ezekiel chapter 34, verses 11–16 and 20–24

 

For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 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. 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. 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. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. 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.

 

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

 

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

 

This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God.


Psalm 95 verses 1–7

 

O come, let us sing to the Lord;
   let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.
 

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving
   and be glad in him with psalms.

 

  For the Lord is a great God
   and a great king above all gods.

 

  In his hand are the depths of the earth
   and the heights of the mountains are his also.

 

  The sea is his, for he made it,
   and his hands have moulded the dry land.

 

  Come, let us worship and bow down
   and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

 

  For he is our God;
   we are the people of his pasture

and the sheep of his hand.

 Amen


The second reading is from St Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 1, verses 15-23

 

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.

 

This is the word of the Lord, thanks be to God


Sunday 22 November 2020 - Year A – Christ the King

Intersessions, given by Mrs Elizabeth Cordone


Let us pray to God,
Heavenly Father, Grant that the church always rejoice in you, her heavenly King. Guide priests and ministers to be good shepherds of the flock entrusted to their care – faithful in word and works. As members of your Church we give thanks for all your gifts so freely given us – for life and health, for
home and friends, for power to work and leisure to rest; for all that enriches thought, or enables character; for all that is beautiful in creation, or in the lives of men and women; we praise and magnify your holy name. Fill our hearts with all joy and peace in believing, and help us continually build our
lives in steadfast hope and confidence, spreading through the world the spirit of love and care.


Together with our Diocese we pray today for the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, Archbishop Bernd Wallet, and we pray for the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Iceland, Latvia and Lithuania. London: Chancellor: Mark Hill; Registrar: Aiden Hargreaves-Smith; Communications Director: Damian Thwaites. 22-25 November - General Synod meets in London.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for those in authority, especially Elizabeth, our Queen and all who serve under her, for the Presidents of France, of Italy, and of USA, and leaders of all nations. Bless all who have authority over others. Grant them wisdom in governing so that justice and peace may everywhere prevail. Keep them mindful of the poverty-stricken peoples of the world who at this very time lack the bare necessities of life. We pray for those who are suffering so deeply from the impact of Covid-19. Where nations and races are divided may they be reconciled through the love of Christ.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

We pray for this community. Lord of all circumstance, we have waited so long and our church is finally ready for use, but closed. Give us patience in trying times and forbearance when we are tested, help us to be loving in every situation. Jesus gave us the ultimate example of service. Give us grace to serve with that same love and humility, always thinking of others before ourselves. Help us to remember that you will not test us beyond our strength and that we can rely on your presence to sustain us.
Lord, in your mercy hear our prayer

We pray for our families and friends – Lord, Protect in your love our families and friends and deliver them from evil. Comfort those who are sad because one they love is far away from them ..... those who are isolated due to Covid-19 .... keep them safe and bring them happy reunion with those they love.
Lord, in your mercy Hear our prayer

As the health crisis continues, we give thanks for all in the medical profession, the carers and all who cooperate with them in hospitals and homes. Lord, grant them wisdom and skill, patience, strength and tenderness , that many may be brought back safely to good health in body and mind. We give thanks for researchers who are trying to understand and overcome the coronavirus. Lord, guard them all from danger.
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We entrust to your tender care those who are ill or in any kind of pain or distress, knowing that whenever danger threatens your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe. We hold in our prayers those on our prayer list: Barbara, Santo, Mark, Alicia, Lisa, Helen, Peter, Jeremy, Clare, Chantal, Kevin, Lucia, Olga, Phil, Alain, Ramona
Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for the dying ........ for those who have died recently ........ for those whose anniversaries fall at this time .................. and for our loved ones who we see no more. Lord, Draw near to those who mourn the loss of a loved one. Comfort them in their loneliness; supply all their need, suffer them never to doubt your love but draw them into ever closer fellowship with you.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Be with us Lord in all our prayers and grant that in the weeks ahead we may know Christ's presence with us in all that we do. May we continue in your faith and abide in your love.

 

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your son our  Saviour Jesus Christ.


2nd Hymn,

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

The Geneva International

Christian Choir Orchestra

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus written by Charles Wesley


The Gospel reading according to our Lord Jesus Christ is taken from St Matthew, chapter 25, verses 31-46.

 

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.’

 

Praise to You O Lord.


We welcome Fr Grant Holmes.
By way of introduction to your locum ‘digital priest’ may I tell you a little something about myself?  I was born in County Durham but brought up in Lancashire.  I still maintain a discernible northern accent despite having spent over 40 years in the south of England.  My theological college was St Stephen’s House, Oxford, where I read theology.  My priestly ministry has been in parishes, as a theological college tutor and Bishop’s Chaplain, and as a hospital chaplain.  Of the 40 odd years since my ordination my time has been spent evenly between parochial and sector ministry. 
Those are the bare bones and I hope over time to flesh them out with some personality as you read my letters online and (if I can manage the technology!) see & hear me on YouTube. 
God bless,
Fr Grant


 

I begin with an apology. I’m sorry that I haven’t managed the technology and been able to put a video on your new YouTube channel that was so cleverly and efficiently launched by Suzanne this week. I can only plead two things by way of excuse; I’m a bit of a Luddite and I put my back out this week, which has greatly reduced both my mobility and ability to concentrate!

 

Anyway, let's get to the point, shall we? Today is Christ the King. Given the disappearance of monarchies across the world over the last two centuries, we can be forgiven for thinking it odd that this feast should have been introduced as recently as 1925 by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Quas Primas. The ‘war to end all wars’ had been fought and its aftermath had left Europe in turmoil. The old certainties were certainties no more. Thousands had died on the battlefields and even more had died in the pandemic that was called the ‘Spanish Flu’. Grief and sorrow, unemployment and poverty were everywhere. And the divide between the ‘roaring twenties’ and the raging poverty of the majority was destroying any sense of hope and purpose for ordinary people.

 

One of the reasons Pope Pius gave for bringing this feast to the forefront of people’s Christian observance was “that the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas, 33)”. It's odd that we should ever need to be reminded of Christ’s kingship as the most used Christian prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, has each one of us saying ‘thy kingdom come, they will be done’. But perhaps we say those words so often that we’ve grown too used to them and don’t allow their meaning to filter into our minds, to open our hearts, and to shape our lives. Like the people in Pius’ time, we are wary of authority, authority that can so easily be abused and used not to protect but to oppress. Do we want Jesus as king? Yes, we’ll have him as friend & brother - even as Lord and Saviour. But do we want a king?

 

In the Gospels Jesus seems to struggle with others conferring his being a king.

He said: You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to become great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:42-45) and Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?"... Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.

 

But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?"

Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth (John 18:33b, 36-37).

 

Accepting Jesus as King doesn’t mean leaving under a despot. Accepting Jesus as King means living under his law of love. That law of love means that when a vaccine is produced for our present pandemic we have to strive to make it available to the most vulnerable. That means not just in our community, in our country, but across the world. It means not just offering it to those whom we would call friends and allies but those whom we fear and would call our enemies. It means making a vaccine available to those countries too poor to pay for it by ourselves paying the price because of Christ’s rule and his law of love.

 

When this pandemic is brought under control and something like normality presents itself again, there will be costs to be borne and a price to pay. If we take today’s feast to heart, and are choosing the Kingdom of Christ, then we will bare the cost and pay the price readily. Why? Because it will be as nothing compared to the cost he bore in laying aside his glory to be born in our world and accept our humanity. We will see that the price he paid upon the cross for our salvation puts the price of the pandemic in proportion.

 

Christians have long celebrated Jesus as Christ, and his reign as King is celebrated to some degree in Advent (when Christians wait for his second coming in glory), Christmas (when "born this day is the King of the Jews"), Holy Week (when Christ is the Crucified King), Easter (when Jesus is resurrected in power and glory), and the Ascension (when Jesus returns to the glory he had with the Father before the world was created). This is a kingship of humility, sacrifice, and love. It has always been what the world needs yet so often refuses to recognise. By celebrating Christ the King today we are trying to offer that reign of humility, sacrifice, and love to everybody.

 

But let me conclude with what I think is the hardest part of this law of love. It means that not only must you love your neighbour but you must also love yourself. That’s the hardest part of all for, if we face the reality of ourselves, we know that more often than not we don’t deserve love. Loving your neighbour as yourself requires that you first learn to love yourself as God loves you. He knows the whole truth about you and he still loves you. We too must learn the truth about ourselves and also how to love the person we really are.

 

When we’ve done that, we can love our neighbours with a love worth giving. When we’ve done that, we can start to establish the Kingdom here and now.

 

with love,

Fr Grant


Final Hymn, Jesus shall Reign

Tarkwa Crusaders Choral Ensemble

GHANA, West AFrica