The last Sunday of the church’s year was this week. This coming week we will be celebrating the first Sunday in Advent, although, sadly, we will still not be in the church in person.
So, we bring the year to a close by focussing our thoughts on Jesus Christ – and his reign as King over all creation. However, as we see from our Scripture (Matthew Ch25 vs 31-46) our King is not removed from us, his people. Instead, we are celebrating a King who is very much one for being alongside his people rather than staying apart and separated from them.
For us, his followers in this day and age, the lesson is quite clear. If we want to be true to our King, then we must look to what he did in his life and do our best to emulate that. To help us think through what that might be we could do no better than turn to Our calling as Methodists. The calling of the Methodist Church is to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission
It does this through:
Worship – The Church exists to increase awareness of God’s presence and to celebrate God’s love
Learning and Caring – The Church exists to help people to grow and learn as Christians, through mutual support and care
Service – The Church exists to be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice
Evangelism – The Church exists to make more followers of Jesus Christ
When you read through these you can see that they are a great blueprint for any church, and they follow closely the life and work of Jesus Christ himself
In the passage we read it in simple terms – feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, be with the lonely, clothe those without proper clothing, care for the sick and visit those in prison. All actions that are within our gift to fulfil.
The common thread running through them all is to be with people. In other words, give of your time to help others. Be present with them. This message is all the more important at this time of pandemic. Although we can’t be there in person because of regulations, we can be there by phone, or card or by gifts of food. The important thing is to let people know that we are thinking about them.
But, be careful, in the passage Jesus warns that these things should not be done in order to be recognised and rewarded. They should be done because you recognise the need and respond to it. When Jesus is telling the parable, he makes it clear that if help is only given to get recognition, it is no real help at all.
Words that often stir me are these ones of Teresa of Avila. She said:
‘Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on the world; yours are the feet with which he walks to do good; yours are the hands with which he blesses the world”
Ponder on the Scripture passage for a while as you consider your own engagement with the mission of the church. The more who ‘follow the footsteps’ of Christ the better. It helps change society and it helps to draw others into the Kingdom.
There is another important aspect to this passage, and it is something that we are less keen to think about. This passage is quite plainly also about judgement. Not a popular idea.
However, it does say quite plainly that God will judge us when we stand before him. The judgement will not be based on our wealth, our popularity, our awards gained etc as tends to be the way in human life. The judgement will be based on the good we have offered to others. Jesus tells us that when we offer aid of any kind to others it is as if we were offering it to him.
It really is as simple as that it is as if Jesus is saying “be kind and generous with your time, your goods, your hospitality and I will accept that you have offered it to me. However, if you do it because you are trying to impress me, then you will fail.”
We have reached the end of another church year. It has been a very different year because of the Covid pandemic. A time that has brought many challenges and many sadness’s. However, it has been a year where we have been impressed by many acts of kindness done by many selfless people. People who grasped the importance of ‘presence’ in order to help those who were perhaps struggling. As we go forward towards a new year in the life of our church – exciting year with a new ministry—let us ponder on how we might take Message of Our calling forward in our daily and congregational life. To do that successfully you must be familiar with the life and work of Jesus. So, as we enter a new year in the life of the church, why not decide to be more diligent in reading Scripture!
Holy One, enthroned in glory over all creation,
you are the shepherd to the lost and the least.
Teach us to see your face among the poor –
feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty,
welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked,
and visiting those who are sick or in prison –
so that we may share in your eternal realm
through Jesus Christ, who is coming indeed,
to reign with justice, compassion and love
Rev Nik Wooller
25th Nov 2020