Letter from the clergy - Friday 20 November 2020

First published on: 20th November 2020

Dear All,

Well our second week of Lockdown Two, and I do hope that you are feeling buoyant, and able to flourish despite everything. Our God is good, and we have much to be thankful for, not least the huge number of people who give of themselves to keep us going as a church, as a community, and as a nation. I pray that we will all continue to grow in gratitude for them.

This Sunday we celebrate ‘Christ the King’, when we remember that Jesus is the king and judge of all things, on earth and in the heavenly realms. And then next Sunday, Advent begins, that special season of preparation and expectation when our thoughts turn to the coming of Christ, both in the birth of Jesus, and at the end of time.

You may remember from the birth narratives of Jesus that it was foretold that he would be given the throne of King David, which is why he was given gold by the Magi. Isaiah 9 speaks of Immanuel, God with us, bringing in his kingdom of peace, reigning with justice and righteousness. And yet Jesus our king is different to any earthly king. According to Matthew 25, God’s kingdom is one where relationships are really important, where people are valued, and cared for, and where the King recognises his subjects as being his brothers and sisters (v40), most unlike any earthly kingdom, though you might say that it is a model that any humane society should follow.

This Sunday's reading has Jesus explaining to his disciples how it will work when he comes again at the end of the age, in his glory, surrounded by angels, acting as king and judge. In saying this he is using Old Testament imagery that they would have been familiar with, in particular from Daniel 7, where Daniel sees a vision of a man ‘like a Son of Man’ coming with the clouds of heaven, given authority to judge the nations, and a kingdom that will never pass away. ‘Son of Man’ is a title that Jesus gave himself in the Gospels, to confirm that he was the Messiah, the one who saves, the one expected to come and save his people, and to judge with authority.

The reading begins with Jesus describing the time when he will come again in his glory with angels, and will judge between the sheep and the goats, that is, those who reached out to help others in need, and those who didn’t. He said to the sheep, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me.

Jesus describes the King saying that whenever people respond in this way, living out their faith in loving practical action towards even the least of his brothers and sisters, they did it for him, which is a verse that has motivated faithful Christian social action over the years, including St George’s Crypt, for which we give thanks. May God give us grace to work out how we can reach out to care for others in this season of Advent, to bring some comfort, and life-giving ‘light into the darkness.’

A Prayer

Loving God,
help us to be calm, courageous, and compassionate,
help us to be kind to ourselves and to others when we feel stretched,
give us the grace to respond with love,
and may we never forget that you are the source of life, peace, and hope.
In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

With grace and peace,
Sue McWhinney         
sue@stjohnsfarsley.org.uk         
07484 181699


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