So here we are looking at Jesus at a feast that is concerned with Jesus as King and I guess that most people imagine Him like this:
Jesus on His throne - settling accounts - the time to be judged. Not a popular image for we'd rather, I'm sure, like to think Jesus dies for all on the cross and so we all get in regardless of the who, what or how - which is a nice thought (called 'universalism') but I'm not convinced by it myself.
Here's an interesting take on it all by a bloke called Keith Green, who sees Jesus just a little differently (and in line with the Gospel and the Old Testament reading):
The readings today all come together rather nicely (you'd almost think someone planned it wouldn't you?) and today, which is also called 'Stir up Sunday' by many because traditionally it was a day when the Christmas pud's were made and it is the Sunday when the Collect:
Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people; that they,
plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may by you be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now there's a prayer - talking about good works and reaping the reward - all very PWE (Protestant Work Ethic) isn't it (a Catholic friend once told me, "We don't have a work ethic of reward, here it's all done by guilt!").
Today is about jesus as King - it's about us recognising who He is and worshipping Him: It's about looking at who we are and the many, many, many ways that we have failed and celebrating the many, many, many ways in which we have good that which was goos and right and Christlike too.
It's not about the big stick but about, in this season of Christmas trees it's about: Seeing the Cross through the trees.
It is not about flashing lights and Argos catalogues but about taking the lead on the Christmas lights and following it all the way to the plug: And the plug is found in a stable in Bethlehem!
Today we are presented with a chance to look at ourselves as reflected in the eyes of Jesus and to see Him as King and us as forgiven.
That's something you'll never find in an Argos catalogue!!!
As we look at Christ the King we give you thanks,
For the tree of shame, pain, and
for me - gain!
The tree upon which death was broken and I was reconciled to God,
The three that bears one light:
the Light of the World.
Illumine me by His life, light and love, I pray. Amen.
For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
‘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. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then 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; for 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, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then 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? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And 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.” Then 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; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I 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.” Then 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?” Then 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.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’