he Readings for The Sunday Before Advent
Christ the King
Sunday the 22nd of November 2020
Ephesians 1.15-23; Matthew 25.31-46
If you want to read all the passages set for this Sunday and to see prayers and artwork from the Divinity School website from Vanderbilt University please either click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
The Collect for Christ the King: 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...
The Collect for the 25th Sunday after Trinity: Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded...
I am sure that my memory must be at fault here but when I think of readings from the bible at morning assembly at my school, the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, the only one that I can remember is today's gospel, Matthew 25.31-46. It seems to me that it was read all the time. It must be that God was patiently pursuing me and that there was something particular that he wanted to say.
Even then I felt distinctly uncomfortable and I must still ask myself, to what degree I have listened to this reading? It is clear that Jesus expects us to take him seriously when he says that when we do good to the poor, to “the least of these who are members of my family”, we are serving him; and the church has long taught that followers of Christ should practice the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, most of which are listed here in this reading from Matthew 25.31-46.
1. To feed the hungry.
2. To give water to the thirsty.
3. To clothe the naked.
4. To shelter the homeless.
5. To visit the sick.
6. To visit the imprisoned, or ransom the captive.
7. To bury the dead.
You will note that it is the last of the seven that is not listed in Matthew 25. It is found in the Book of Tobit that some of you may have in your bibles in a section between the Old and New Testament. Indeed it refers to a practice going back to the early centuries of the church in which its members would go out to the rubbish tips outside the town walls and collect the bodies of beggars in order to give them a proper burial. It was a powerful way of saying that even the poorest of people were known and loved by God.
I do not think that it is possible for most people to be able to perform, individually, every one of the seven acts of mercy, but I do think that every Christian community should try to perform all of them as part of our common life. First of all, we should make sure that none of our number are in need and without support. Then we should consider together as a fellowship of parishes whether we are performing all of these works. One of the most practical ways to do so is to give financial support to those agencies who seek to serve the poor. At Christmas we are encouraged to support the Children's Society through Christingle Services and Dr Clare Thorley has long organised a successful service in Hartlebury Parish Church which will be available to watch on YouTube with links to enable us to give to children in serious need at this time of year. In the Spring we are able to support Christian Aid as it seeks to serve the poor throughout the world and all through the year we can support our local foodbanks, homeless shelters and organisations in the Midlands who are supporting those who have fled violence and persecution in their own countries. It was Mother Theresa of Calcutta who used to speak of serving Christ in his “unfortunate disguise”. We also have this opportunity.
We have several measures in place to make sure everyone is, and feels, safe:
Only come if you are feeling well
Always keep 2m social distancing at ALL times, inside and out.
Wear a face covering
Sanitise your hands in the porch before entering
We will have a register of who is attending to assist Track and Testing
A Sidesperson will show you to your pew. The door will already be open and will be left that way.
(We will only use alternate pews and 2m spacing within the pew. Please keep to these spaces unless you are from the same household)
There will be no singing, except for the choir but we will have music.
The collection will be taken at the end of the service , either onto the wooden plate or by using the card machine. (Sanitiser will be next to it)
At the end of the service please move straight outside, sanitising your hands again on the way.
Weather permitting we can chat while distancing outside.
For anyone who is particularly vulnerable we can allocate more isolated seats in the side pews. Please let us know in advance.
For your peace of mind:
Before the service the church will have been cleaned, wooden surface washed with soapy water, and anything else sprayed with Dettol.
Andrew (01905 620259) and Fiona (01905 621176)