November 20, 2011
(Matthew 25, 31-45) Address for Holy Communion with baptism.
Have you ever seen the Queen or a member of the Royal Family in the flesh. Or in a film or on TV? Did they look the same as every other person or different? They are a very different Royal Family from the one described in our reading today. That king would have had absolute power to reward or punish anyone. Think Henry VIII rather than Elizabeth II!
What about Jesus? Anyone ever seen him? Seen pictures – what people think he may have looked like. What do you think Jesus looks like? How would you recognise him if he suddenly appeared before you? Do you think he would look the same as everyone else, or different?
Today is a very special day in the church. The Feast of Christ the King – the last Sunday before we begin the four weeks of Advent, which is the time we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. It’s a time also when we try to prepare ourselves for when Jesus comes to us again, to judge us.
In this week’s gospel Matthew tells Jesus’s followers a story about the day they will be judged and surprisingly, explains they will be judged as good or bad by how they’ve taken care of Jesus.
Matthew says when Jesus 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, or gave him something to wear when he had nothing or visited him when he was in prison.
But the people are a little surprised to hear this from Jesus – as we might be. We probably know we’ve never taken care of Jesus when he was sick – or given him food or a drink – and neither had many of them. So they said to “We don’t remember doing all these things for Jesus!”
And then Matthew gives them the message that’s at the heart of what Jesus taught. 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 Jesus, our King.
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.
Perhaps some of you may have done these things for Jesus on Friday, when Children in Need were raising money for children in this country. Today is the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children – perhaps you could do something to help other children today. And over Christmas, there will be lots of appeals to help people without homes and needing food and other essentials. There will be appeals at church and elsewhere. Perhaps you could serve Jesus by responding to these appeals.
What a perfect story that is to lead us into the first Sunday of Advent, when we begin celebrating the coming of Jesusas a tiny baby.
But the story has other lessons for us especially as we welcome J. into the Christian family in baptism. It tells us that God is not chiefly concerned about how we worship, or whether we say the creed, or believe certain things about the Bible, or Jesus or the Church. What really matters to God is how we behave, and especially how we behave to those who are vulnerable and at a disadvantage. As Jesus shows us, it doesn’t matter whether their troubles are their own fault, whether they deserve to be helped or not. We will be judged on how we respond. And that will affect what our world is like – whether it’s the Paradise into which those who helped others were welcomed in Matthew’s story, or the living Hell into which those who ignored the needs of others were sent.
And remember, it’s not a TV personality, or a member of cast of Eastenders, but our King who is telling us whenever we help the smallest and weakest member of the human family, we are doing it for God.
(based on an outline at The Children’s Sermon.Com © 2008)