A Service for Sunday 22nd November


A Service for the Sunday before Advent - The Festival of Christ the King - 22nd November, 2020

 

Preparation:

Before beginning to read this short service, you may wish to find a space for prayer in front of a cross, a candle, or a special place.  

 

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

 

The Acclamation of Christ at the Dawning of the Day 

 

O Lord, open our lips

and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

 

May Christ, the true, the only light

banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

 

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. 

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. 

 

Glory to the Father and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.

 

Blessed are you, creator of all,

to you be praise and glory for ever.

As your dawn renews the face of the earth

bringing light and life to all creation,

may we rejoice in this day you have made;

as we wake refreshed from the depths of sleep,

open our eyes to behold your presence

and strengthen our hands to do your will,

that the world may rejoice and give you praise.

Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Blessed be God for ever.

 

Christ calls us to share the heavenly banquet of his love

with all the saints in earth and heaven.

Knowing our unworthiness and sin,

let us ask from him both mercy and forgiveness.

 

The kingdom is yours,

but we turn away from your just rule:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

 

The power is yours,

but we trust in our own power and strength:

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

 

The glory is yours,

but we fall short of the glory of God:

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

 

The Collect

Silence is kept.

 

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;

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

Amen

 

The First Hymn

All People That on Earth Do Dwell: 

please access Simon’s accompaniment here: 

https://youtu.be/WBfUXnc4Wvk

 

All people that on earth do dwell,
sing to the Lord with cheerful voice:
him serve with fear, his praise forth tell,
come ye before him, and rejoice.

The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
without our aid he did us make:
we are his folk, he doth us feed,
and for his sheep he doth us take.

O enter then his gates with praise,
approach with joy his courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless his Name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

For why?  the Lord our God is good,
his mercy is for ever sure;
his truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
the God whom heaven and earth adore,
from men and from the angel host
be praise and glory evermore.

 

The First Reading:

Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24

 

Psalm 95: 1-7

 

Refrain:    Come, let us worship and bow down.

 

1    O come, let us sing to the Lord;  

let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.

2    Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving  

and be glad in him with psalms.

3    For the Lord is a great God  

and a great king above all gods. [R]

4    In his hand are the depths of the earth  

and the heights of the mountains are his also.

5    The sea is his, for he made it,  

and his hands have moulded the dry land.

6    Come, let us worship and bow down  

and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

7    For he is our God;  

we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. [R]

 

Refrain:    Come, let us worship and bow down.

 

Lord God, the maker of all,

as we bow down in praise this day,

make us attentive to your voice

and do not test us beyond our enduring;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

 

The Second Reading:

Ephesians 1: 15-end

 

 

Alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven.

Luke 19.38

Alleluia.

 

The Gospel:

Matthew 25: 31-end

 

Homily

The parable of the sheep and the goats is one that should encourage and support us in seeking Christ in others, but may, potentially, disturb us and make us uncomfortable as we come to Church in hope and expectation, because of the reality of judgement in this account, and because there is, deep-rooted within us, a feeling of inadequacy; a sense of insecurity, a desire, a longing, that we could always be doing more.  Have we missed seeing Christ in another?  Yes, of course we will have done, but this isn’t about what we have missed, it is to help and encourage us, to see Christ in our midst, every day.  So let us think about this parable a bit like a speed camera on the roads.  It is not there to catch us, it is there to remind us; to make us recognise what we are doing and consider what care we are taking.

When you think about it, Jesus had much to say about (and to) the ruling elite of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, and he condemned them on numerous occasions for their hypocrisy.  Many didn’t listen to him, but there were also those of humble heart, and who were deeply attracted to Christ’s teaching; whose eyes were being opened to who Jesus was, Nicodemas and Joseph of Aramethea amongst them, and of course, many women too.  These are people who were challenged by what Jesus was doing and saying, and would have listened avidly to a parable such as the one before us today, as they saw what new life our Lord was bringing, even though, maybe, they couldn’t fully understand him; but they saw in him a new light in the darkness; a new vision of how we see each other, according to the great commandments of the Law.

But there is another side of this parable before us this morning and that is underlined by the designation of this Sunday as: of “Christ the King”. This recognises that the parable of the sheep and the goats, though spoken of by a wandering rabbi of Israel is going to be fulfilled in an eternal and spiritual way, as Christ through Cross and Passion, Resurrection and Ascension, returns in glory to the Throne of Heaven.  By being who he is, he becomes the one sick who is visited; the one thirsty who needs a drink.  The parable is, in fact, more than a gentle reminder, it is a judgement on the way that human beings act towards one another; and, I think that we may say, that nothing has changed from our Lord’s day until now. 

Our helplessness in the face of humanitarian disasters has, increasingly over the decades of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, have brought us to see Christ in the role of servant; binding up the wounds of our broken world; restoring and healing from his incarnational presence; he is with us in the darkness; suffers with the desolate, and bears up those who fall.  The Graham Kendrick hymn “The Servant King” has helped us to regain a balance in this, for Christ’s humanity is held with his divinity; his servanthood with his kingship. 

One verse and chorus runs:

 

Come, see his hands and his feet,

The scars that speak of sacrifice,

Hands that flung stars into space

To cruel nails surrendered.

 

This is our God, the Servant King,

He calls us now to follow him,

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of worship to the Servant King.

 

So, yes, this is a festival of climax today; the Christian Year beginning, as it does, on the announcement that the Messiah is coming, ends with the Ascended Christ reigning in majesty from his throne above.   It is also a reminder to us, that as theological emphases change, as our view of the world changes, so how important it is that the ultimate truths of the Christian Church are seen in the balance that they have, throughout the course of the Christian Year that ends this week.  Perhaps the most important of those theological balances is to see Christ as both God and Man; as exalted King, yet giving himself to human flesh and dying on a Cross.  

Today the Feast of Christ the King, reminds us that he is not just an example for us to follow, but also someone who holds us to account for the way that we live our lives and act towards others.  So it is a festival that is both glorious and sobering.  But, as I began this homily, let us call to mind that though the parable before us is full of division and judgement and outcomes, and abhors complacency, we should hear it with encouragement and humility; acknowledging our citizenship of the kingdom, of which Jesus is rightly seen by us as Lord and King.  It is a moment of the Christian Year to lovingly raise our eyes to the heavens, and give thanks and praise to he who has brought us from darkness to light; from despair to joy.

John Mann

 

Second Hymn 

Let All The World: https://youtu.be/MsL86ZAsW9M

 

1 Let all the world in every corner sing,
"My God and King!"
The heavens are not too high,
God's praise may thither fly;
the earth is not too low,
God's praises there may grow.
Let all the world in every corner sing,
"My God and King!”

2 Let all the world in every corner sing,
"My God and King!"
The church with psalms must shout:
no door can keep them out.
But, above all, the heart
must bear the longest part.
Let all the world in every corner sing,
"My God and King!”

 

Prayers 

Let us with confidence present our prayers and supplications to the throne of grace.

 

We pray for all those in positions of power,

that they may govern with wisdom and integrity,

serving the needs of their people.

May your reign come;

Lord, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for the Church, the sign of your reign,

that it may extend your welcome to people of every

race and background.

May your kingdom come;

Lord, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for Christians of every denomination,

that together we may come to understand

the royal priesthood you bestowed on us in baptism.

May your dominion come;

Lord, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for those whose commitment to truth

brings them into conflict with earthly powers,

that they may have the courage to endure.

May your rule come;

Lord, hear our prayer.

 

We pray for this community of faith,

that attentive to your word

we may always worship in spirit and in truth.

May your reign come;

Lord, hear our prayer.

 

A moment of silence when our own intercessions may be offered.

 

Loving God,

you have taught us that the power of the heart

is greater than the power of wealth and might.

Hear us as we pray for the fulfilment of your reign.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our King;

to him be glory and power for ever.

Amen.

 

The Peace

 

To crown all things there must be love,

to bind all together and complete the whole.

Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

 

A few moments of silence before we pray:

 

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.

Amen.

 

Conclusion

 

God the Father,

who has given to his Son the name above every name,

strengthen us to proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord.

Amen.

 

God the Son,

who is our great high priest passed into the heavens,

plead for us at the right hand of the Father.

Amen.

 

God the Holy Spirit,

who pours out his abundant gifts upon the Church,

make us faithful servants of Christ our King.

Amen.

 

And the blessing of God almighty, 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

guard us, save us,

and bring us to that heavenly city,

where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

“Sarabande” from Holberg Suite - Grieg: https://youtu.be/pkp9pHIc9Jo

 

 

Common Worship: Times and Seasons, material from which is included here,

is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2006 and published by Church House Publishing.

 

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