CCL 125049 Charity No SC002937
- Hymn 459 Crown him with many crowns Tune Diademata (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
- All age time
- Reading Matthew 25: 31-46 (Good News Bible)
- Hymn 436 Christ triumphant ever reigning Tune Guiting Power(Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
- Prayer for others
- Hymn 458 At the name of Jesus Tune Camberwell(Church Hymnary 4th Edition)
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Welcome and let us worship God
‘The LORD had established his throne for judgement. He it is who will judge the world with justice, who will try the cause of peoples with equity.’Psalm 9: 7-8
Hymn 459 Crown him with many crowns
All age time (for ages 0-100)
- Today’s Bible story In today’s Bible story Jesus warns his followers that the way we treat others is very important to God
- Something to do:
- Draw a sheep, and either stick on it bits of cotton wool or paper curls. Don’t forget its tail
- Find out five useful/useless facts about sheep and goats
- Something to think about
- Sheep and goats in our country look very different, but apparently in the Holy Land in Jesus’ time they were very similar in appearance, except that goats’ tails pointed up, and sheeps’ tails pointed down. You needed to know them well to spot the difference
- Are we ever inclined to judge people by appearance?
- If God used the sheep/goats test on us, how well would we fare?
The Psalmist encouraged us to proclaim your greatness
and tell the nations what you have done
You are the Creator of this and any other universe
you are so great, so mighty, so immense
that our minds cannot grasp how great you are –
but amid it all, you are aware of, and concerned for
the smallest detail, the smallest creature
You are a holy God
you care passionately about justice
about honesty, about truth
you hate selfishness
you hate greed, abuse, neglect
in your Spirit you are always seeking to put right wrongs
to bring people wholeness and fullness of life
You are a loving God
you know and care for each one of us
you care so much that you gave us your Son
who suffered and died for us
and rose again to give us new life and new hope
We haven’t responded to you as we should
we haven’t given you the praise and honour you deserve
we haven’t proclaimed your greatness to alla round
Help us to refocus our lives on you
to love others as you want us to do
to be faithful witnesses to you in all that we do
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
Bible reading Matthew 25: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes as King and all the angels with him, he will sit on his royal throne, and the people of all the nations will be gathered before him. Then he will divide them into two groups, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the righteous people on his right and the others on his left. Then the King will say to the people on his right, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world. I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me into your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’
The righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you into our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me!’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the Devil and his angels! I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; I was a stranger but you would not welcome me into your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.’
Then they will answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and would not help you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.’ These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.”
Hymn 436 Christ triumphant ever reigning
A couple of verses from Holy Willie’s Prayer
Lord, in thy day o’ vengeance try him!
Lord, visit him wha did employ him!
And pass not in Thy mercy by them,
Nor hear their prayer.
But for Thy people’s sake destroy them,
An’ dinna spare!
But, Lord, remember me and mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace and gear may shine
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine
Burns was having a satirical swipe both at the prevalent notion of predestination and those that he saw who seemed to use it to justify a ‘do as I say, not what I do’ lifestyle. Some folk can be very good at dividing people into Good and Bad, those who are going to Heaven (usually themselves) and those destined for Hell (usually anyone they don’t like or with whom they disagree). We may smile at some earnest folk when they start pontificating on the topic, but it is very different when we see others wounding or killing people they regard as ‘wicked unbelievers’.
‘Judgement’ is a topic that has always caused problems for the Christian faith. A central part of the Jewish faith was the legal code. The ‘teachers of the Law’ and rabbis developed schools of jurisprudence and libraries of books around the details and principles of the Law. Some Jewish schools of thought imagined a time when everyone would be judged for their behaviour: the Good would be raised to eternal life, and the Bad either not be raised or suffer eternally in Hell. Some thought that good deeds – charitable donations, acts of kindness etc – sort of earned you points to help you through on Judgement Day.
Some of those ideas were carried over into Christianity. The compiler of Matthew’s Gospel seems to have been from a Jewish background, writing for Christians from a Jewish background, and for him and them the picture of a Judgement Day was important. It is a theme that has carried on in many strands of the Christian Faith, from the mediaeval church to Evangelical preachers who have focussed on the ‘fire and brimstone’ theme. The approach tends to expect people to respond to the Church/Gospel because of fear for the future.
There are times when the idea of an end-of-time Judgement (whatever it means in practice) is almost comforting. It would mean that tyrants and crooks who have made lives miserable for others and lived their days in comfort and luxury, dying peacefully in their beds, would have to answer for their behaviour. It would also mean that those who did suffer miserable would have their injustices put right.
But against that picture of Judgement the New Testament also presents the picture, in the life and teaching of Jesus, of God’s love and undeserved grace. We can never chalk up enough points to ‘get through the Judgement’, but it isn’t about earning points, it is about depending entirely on God’s mercy and concern for us. He has called us to come to him, to find in him a new way of living, new hope, a new vision for ourselves and the world, and he offers us his Spirit’s help in changing the way we live. In that picture God is looking for see in our lives echoes of the love, care, goodness of Jesus, enabled by the Spirit. There is no question there of God getting an angel to tot up our ‘Good Behaviour’ points the way that an elf in Santa’s grotto may do so during December. It is a message of hope not fear, encouraging us to come to God because it will be such a wonderful experience sharing in his love and his family.
So the image of Judgement in the Christian faith is a complex one. If we do see the Bible using the courtroom analogy, we need to remember that it is in the context of Jewish practice 2000 years ago. At that time there were three main parties in a trial, along with witnesses: the judge who listened to the arguments for and against, the prosecutor (in Hebrew the Shatan, from which the word Satan comes) who tried to convince the judge of the defendant’s guilt, and the defence lawyer. The first letter of John envisages that picture, with Jesus as the Defence Lawyer: ‘If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.’ Essentially what it is saying is that, if we are picturing a Judgement scene like a law court, it isn’t up to us to prove how good we’ve been, or anyone else to prove how bad we’ve been. Rather Jesus addresses the Judge and court saying, ‘Find them ‘Not Guilty’, for I have paid the penalty they were due.’
Christ, our Lord and our King!
Prayers for others
We pray for all who have been victims of crime
some continue to carry mental scars –
flashbacks, anxiety –
some carry physical, sometimes life-changing, scars
some have lost loved ones
some have lost livelihoods or savings
help them to find new hope and purpose in life
we pray for those who have committed crimes
some have been arrested and convicted
some have not
some wish to make a new start in life
some do not, some would like to but all attempts fail
some do not seem to see anything wrong in what they did or do
we pray for those who are involved in the legal processes
police, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, justices of the peace, jurors, lawmakers
may they always strive for peace, justice and the righting of wrongs
We pray for all who are ill,
those who look after them
and those who worry about them
those waiting for or receiving treatment
and those for whom there is no treatment
those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one
those who are worried about home, work or money
a friend or a relative
those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters
those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home
those who long to live in peace and safety
those who have fled from their homes seeking safety
We pray for the Queen, the Government
all in positions of leadership in this and every land
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen
Hymn 458 At the name of Jesus (Camberwell)
Christ our King make you faithful
and strong to do his will,
and bring you to reign with him in glory
and the blessing of God Almighty
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
rest and remain with you,
today, and every day, and for ever. Amen