Readings:         Psalm 95:1-7                               Ezekiel 34:11-16. 20-24

Ephesians 1:15-end                   Matthew 25:31-end

“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.”

If there is one good thing that has come out of this present Pandemic it is the care that so many people have shown to those in need.  Doctors, nurses, carers, those who work in food banks and other charitable organizations; even neighbours who for the first time have perhaps got to know who lives next door or in their street; often these acts of care or kindness are carried out without the knowledge of the recipient.

It is true that often out of trouble and adversity there is a very human and basic response of kindness, charity and dare I say even love.  We have again just had “Children in Need”, and one cannot but be struck by the plight of so many children in this country alone, without looking at the desperate situation of children in so many parts of the rest of our world.  Yet, year after year there is a very heart warming response from the British public as a whole.

Today, ‘Christ the King’ Sunday, celebrates the all-embracing authority of Christ as King and Lord of all things.  Instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, this Feast Day is now celebrated on the final Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Church’s calendar, that is, the Sunday before the beginning of Advent, which of course, leads us up to Christmas.

In 1925 Pope Pius XI, and the rest of the Christian world, was witnessing the rise of non-Christian dictatorships in Europe, which saw Catholics being ‘taken in’ by these earthly leaders, dictators who often attempted to assert authority over the Church.  The Feast of ‘Christ the King’ was instituted during this time, when respect for Christ and the Church was waning; the ‘feast day’ was seen to be needed to reverse this decline.

Today of course many of our churches are closed, as with St. Luke’s and the Barn apart from being open for private prayer, and I know our church leaders are trying very hard to reverse that Government decree, as I believe many reading and hearing this would also wish.  It is though in my opinion the strength of the Christian faith, that it lives in it’s believers, we are the ‘body of Christ’, the church.

This allows us to function outside the four walls of a building, in fact Christ began to build his church on a ‘rock’ called Peter, and this ‘church’ was taken on and grown by the Apostle Paul and his followers in the peoples of present day Turkey and Greece.

How much of that teaching of Christ, as we heard in our Gospel reading, is being carried out, day after day, in these present times, and by those who do not ask or seek for any reward or recognition.  Who so often go unnoticed, without praise or thanks, other than knowing in themselves that they have done a good turn for a fellow human being less fortunate than themselves.

“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.”

We are never in isolation, never completely alone, never just one set of footprints in the sand, for God sees and knows all, even if so often we doubt or forget that He is with us always.

As Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

“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.”

A king who rode on a donkey, and ruled not by the sword, or by false promises, or by offering power and prestige to others, but by love and care and commitment to those who were hungry, thirsty, strangers, unclothed and unloved, those who even today are the most forgotten or rejected by our society.  It is as Christians, as Christ’s Church here on earth that we, you and me, must continue to grow His Kingdom, and show ourselves worthy of being with Him in the ever-lasting kingdom at the end of time.

So as we celebrate this ‘Christ the King’ Sunday let us do so in the knowledge that Kings, Queens, Dictators and even Presidents will come and go, but there is only one true King with ‘power and dominion’, who will be with us and care for us as long as we praise His name.    Amen.

Prayers for the Feast of Christ the King

Dear Lord,
You sent your son as the servant King whose kingdom is one of service, suffering and humility. A King who rules by love and care. We are reminded by the Gospel today that we should serve and care for one another and in doing so we serve you.

In that spirit, let us pray.

We pray for our leaders and all who are in positions of responsibility. We ask that they make wise decisions for the good of all people. May they keep in mind their responsibilities in all they do and the decisions they make. The news of a vaccine has given hope for all that the end of the pandemic is in sight. We pray that our leaders will ensure a fair distribution between all nations.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Truthful God, we pray for those who hunger for justice and peace. Help us to stand beside them. We pray for our neighbours caught up in conflicts; we pray for our neighbours fleeing from danger; we pray for our neighbours who are oppressed or wrongly imprisoned; we pray for our neighbours whose lives are blighted by natural disasters or poverty; we pray for our neighbours who are victims of terrorism or hate crime. Bless those who work to bring relief to our neighbours and help us to show the same compassion and generosity. We ask for peace in our world, we ask for healing in our world.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are suffering in our community. We think of people who have lost their jobs or who are anxious about money. We think of those who have no homes nor friends and family to support them.  We give thanks for the work of Glass Door, the Vineyard and Richmond Foodbank and their supporting volunteers. We pray for an end to poverty.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for those who are thirsty for human kindness. We pray for those who are finding the isolation of lockdown hard. We pray for those who are lonely, those in care homes missing their loved ones, those who are in difficult relationships, those struggling with mental health problems. Help us to seek out the lonely and to be a refuge for the abused, so that they might be refreshed in you.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Caring God, we pray for those who are sick in body, mind or spirit. We give thanks for the care that they receive through friends, family, or caring professionals. Let us pray for Grace Hay, Alan Hay, John Lynch, Roger Mason and others known to us.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious God, we commend all those who have died into your loving care. Bless those whose hearts are filled with sadness that they too may know the hope of resurrection in Jesus Christ our Lord. We remember Janet Hicks and others known to us.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Let us finish with the post communion prayer for today:
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.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen