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Love Is Something You Do

Mt25,35-46It’s tempting to think of God as “our” Shepherd, and God’s pastures as “our” home, and then to exclude those who don’t quite fit in with “us”.
In our churches and communities, and even in our families and social circles, this sorting of society according to our categories seems natural. But we are missing the point.
This week’s parables and readings confront us with the reality that God’s methods of sorting is very different to ours. The Parable of the Sheep and Goats may appear to be a parable of judgement, but there’s far more to it.
It asks us if we have truly learned from Christ’s example – whether our relationship with our Lord is sufficiently intimate to recognise him even when he looks out at us through his “distressing disguise” as outcasts (as Mother Teresa put it).
How can we recognise God’s reign if we haven’t learned to recognise Jesus in the faces of those in whom we least expect him?
Our challenge is to pay attention to how we tend to judge, sort and categorise others, and instead focus on seeing Christ in all people.
When we serve others, we do it as though we were serving Jesus himself.
Only then can we come anywhere near experiencing God’s reign in the here and now.
Such discipline demands imagination, grace and a willingness to surrender our pride and need for control and safety.
Everyone belongs in the Kingdom. There are no reserved seats. When we exclude others we are really excluding ourselves.
The Shepherd calls all who will listen and will follow. Can we be inclusive? May our worship this week help us to discover some practical ways to do this.

Adapted from: http://sacredise.com/lectionary/2014/10/christ-the-king-reign-of-christ-a/#more-427
Ephesians1: 15-23 Paul’s Prayer
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason 16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17I 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, 18so 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, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20God 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, 21far 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. 22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Matthew 25: 31-46 The Sheep and the Goats (Judgement of the Nations)
31 ‘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. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then 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; 35for 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, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” 37Then 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? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” 40And 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.” 41Then 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; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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.” 44Then 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?” 45Then 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.” 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’