The Revs. Smiths’ Message for November 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday is the last in the church year, known as The Reign of Christ Sunday. A text frequently read for this is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), one of a series of parables that Jesus uses to describe the kingdom of heaven. It is about entering the kingdom of heaven, and it is described in terms of a series of actions: feeding, giving, welcoming, clothing, visiting, and caring. And those actions are directed to those who are the most vulnerable: those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned. It’s odd that there is no mention of worship, prayer, or reading scripture. Maybe the parable is telling us that the more “religious” actions are not ends in themselves, but are ultimately for the sake of tangible, caring acts of love and mercy.

“Separation of Sheep and Goats”; early 20th century reproduction of an early 6th century Byzantine mosaic; from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; taken from the Wikimedia Commons.

The reign of Christ reaches a climax here, not in a great victory won by force, but in a call to those who would follow, to do so in humility by serving ‘the least of these,’ the most vulnerable in our communities and around the world. He does not rule with pretensions of superiority or dominance, but through servanthood and compassion.

As the page is turned, and the cycle of the year begins again in just another week, the word that announces the Saviour’s coming does so with a hint about his calling: “You will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)

Grace and peace to you,

Revs. Bob and Helen Smith

A version of this message first appeared in the Saturday, November 21, 2020, edition of Tidbits.