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Christ the King (Last Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 29)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46
Christ the King

Highlighted Verses: Matthew 25: 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. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then 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; 35for 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, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then 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? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And 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.’ 41Then 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; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.’ 44Then 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?’ 45Then 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.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Today is a very special day in the church. We call it The Feast of Christ the King - and it is the last Sunday before we begin the four weeks of Advent, which is the time we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.

This week's gospel lesson is one of my very favorites. Jesus tells his followers a story about the day they will gather before him to enter heaven - and (as he sometimes does) he confuses them just a little by explaining that they will enter heaven because they've taken such good care of him.
He tells them that when he was hungry they gave him food and when he was thirsty they gave him a drink. He tells them that they took care of him when he was sick and welcomed him warmly when he was a stranger.  

But the people are a little surprised to hear this from Jesus - in the same way that we might be. I don't know about you, but I've never had a chance to take care of Jesus when he was sick - or to give him food or a drink - and neither had many of them. So they said to him, "Jesus, when did this happen? We don't remember doing all these things for you!"

And what he tells them is one of the most important lessons in the whole Bible. He explains that when we do these things for others who really need them - when we feed the hungry and take care of the sick... when we do good things for other people here on Earth - that we're actually doing these things for him.

Jesus' story helps us to remember that we do God's work every day - and that we never quite know all the places we meet him. What a perfect story to lead us into the first Sunday of Advent, when we begin celebrating the coming of Jesus in the most surprising (and normal) of ways: as a tiny baby.

Shall we pray?

Dear God,
As we prepare our hearts and minds for Advent, help us to remember that we do your work on Earth as we take care of others in need.

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