Weekly e-Devotion: November 24 Edition

Matthew 25:31-46

Gospel Lesson
for Sunday November 
26 2017

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.” 

   We are accustomed to presidents, not kings.  We elect them and in the next election cycle, if we’re not happy, we boot them out!  Kings don’t come and go so easily. With kings, it’s the subjects who get the boot if they are “unprofitable servants (cf. Luke 17:10).”  As Christians, we are asked to participate in two worlds, e.g., the earthly world where we engage a government that often disappoints or betrays our trust, and the Kingdom of God where we are full citizens with responsibilities to carry out that fulfill God’s desires for both “worlds.” So, if Christ is our King and we are his humble, obedient servants…why are the hungry not fed, the sick not healed, the prisoners not visited…at least in numbers that encourage others to find and serve our King along with us? 
    I have never understood how the more progressive end of the church is consistently maligned by conservatives for promoting a “social gospel.” It seems obvious to me that if I am starving to death, rotting in prison, wandering the streets or captured by terrorists, I would want my immediate, critical need met before I would be able to pay very much attention to what might happen to my soul at some future date. In fact, the meeting of any temporal need becomes the natural opening for a spiritual conversation!
   
In this final judgment scene, both the “sheep” and the “goats” are equally surprised by God’s decision about their actions (or inaction), and, rather than feeling “sheep-like,” feel, at the very least, “sheepish!” Consternation abounds: “Lord, when was it that we saw you…?” which sounds suspiciously like a fatal unfamiliarity with their supposed “shepherd.”
   
Martin Luther once wrote, “God doesn’t need your good works; your neighbor does.”  Each time we choose to feed the hungry, visit the sick or those in prison, shelter the homeless or clothe the naked we are exercising our spiritual muscles doing the work of discipleship. When we neglect or refuse to participate in what have been called these “corporal works of mercy,” we become weak and ineffective Christians and, as this gospel passage suggests, subject to a judgment we would rather avoid.  Each decision we make takes us further down one road or the other.  The road “paved with good intentions” has a great and dreadful sinkhole at its end.
   
God’s love and desire for his people is seen with the most light when we are imitating Christ in his compassion for others.  It is our vocation while on this earth to be the hands and feet, the head and heart of our Lord to the rest of his children.  The old adage, “Charity begins at home” is actually quite wise.  For most of us, that is our first experience of unconditional love.  Being able to receive the gifts of that love and then learning to give that love ourselves, we begin to understand what God is asking of us.  When we live out of God’s unconditional love for us, the world will know in whom we believe. When our King returns, will he find us busy with kingdom work? The Talmud reminds us of the core of our mandate: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at cbecker@allsaintsphoenix.org or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Heavenly Father, give us the insight and courage to see you in every face. Amen


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Bible Readings

Nov 26
Christ the King Sunday
Click HERE to read
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46 *


Nov 3
1st Sunday of Advent

Click HERE to read
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23
Matthew 25:31-46

* eDevotion Bible text(s)

 

Click HERE to read
Genesis 21:8-21 and Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
Jeremiah 20:7-13 and Psalm 69:7-10, (11-15), 16-18
Romans 6:1b-11
Matthew 10:24-39
 

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