There are two different sermons on this page, preceded by two lenthly resources I am using...
An old shoemaker, Papa Panov was working very hard in his shop getting ready for Christmas. It was really hard work, he was old, lonely and nearly too blind to see what he was doing.
He sat daydreaming and had a dream that Jesus was going to visit him. He got up very excited and thought to himself... "Now what can I give to Jesus for a present?" He looked all around his little shop and he saw a tiny box on the top shelf. He remembered what was in it...some very tiny shoes, the best that he had ever made. He would give those to Jesus.
Papa Panov awoke early on Christmas morning. He was very excited at the thought of a visit from Jesus. He looked impatiently out of his door and down the road. There was a road sweeper, blue with cold and looking very hungry. Papa Panov invited him in and made him rest by the fire. Papa Panov gave the road sweeper his coat and a little of the soup that he had made. There was still enough left for Jesus when he came so it was alright. The road sweeper went away very happy.
A little while later Papa Panov looked out of his door again. He saw a tramp walking down the road. Nobody should spend Christmas like that thought Papa Panov so he invited the tramp in. The tramp got warm by the fire, had a little of the soup and Papa Panov gave him all of the money that he had. The tramp went away very happy.
It was getting late when Papa Panov looked out of his window again. He was very worried that Jesus was not going to come after all. There was a woman with a small baby passing. They were very cold, tired and hungry. Papa Panov invited them in to rest. He gave them the rest of his soup. "Oh dear," he thought. "Now there won't be any for Jesus." He looked at the baby with nothing on its feet in the icy cold weather. He remembered the little shoes and fetched the box down. The shoes fitted just right. Papa Panov gave the baby the shoes but was very upset at the thought of having nothing to give Jesus.
Night came. Papa Panov had not had a visit from Jesus. He went to bed feeling rather unhappy and very foolish.
That night Papa Panov had another dream. He dreamed that he met Jesus and asked him why he did not visit during the day. Jesus said, "But I did. I came as a road sweeper and you warmed, fed and clothed me. I came as a tramp and you fed me and gave me your money. I came as a baby, you looked after me and gave me shoes. By making all those people happy you have made me happy."
On a grey Friday in January 2007, during the peak of the early morning commuter rush, an unassuming young man entered the L'Enfant Plaza train station in Washington D.C.
As the crowds rushed by, the man found a place to stand out of the way of the commuters rushing into the station. He opened the violin case he carried. He threw into the case a few coins and dollar bills to "prime the pump." And then he proceeded to begin playing.
But this was no ordinary street musician. Joshua Bell is an American Grammy Award-winning violinist. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He has since performed with almost all of the world's major orchestras and conductors. Only three days earlier audiences had paid between 100.00 to 200.00 dollars for a ticket to watch him play at Boston's Symphony Hall. Now, as he stood just a few feet from clueless commuters hurrying to work, Bell played his heart out on his four million dollar 1713 Stradivarius violin.
Bell began with "Chaconne," from Bach's Partita No. 2 in D Minor. Bell calls this a "spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect." "Chaconne" is also considered one of the most difficult violin solos ever written.
Can you guess what happened? Did busy commuters suddenly stop in their tracks, mesmerized by this master violinist, and drift towards the magical music?
No. For the first three minutes of Bell's "concert" no one passing by acknowledged anything. Not the music. Not the musician. Nothing. Everyone hurried by, head down, concentrating on their next destination.
At four minutes one woman hurriedly tossed a dollar into Bell's open violin case. Finally, after six minutes, one commuter stopped, leaned against a wall, and listened to the gift that was being poured out into that train station air.
Bell played for 43 minutes. He made a grand total of $32.00 from 27 donations. ("Better than minimum wage," Bell noted later). Two people stopped to listen. The other 1,070 people who passed in front of him simply rushed by, oblivious, obsessed by their own agendas. If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that, then what else are we missing? Today's gospel reading warns us to notice and help those who are around us...
Christ the King : Matthew 25:31-46
Matthew 25:31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' 41 "Then he will say to those on his left, `Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44 "They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45 "He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
BBC News Tuesday 18th November 2008; "The camera used to photograph the Queen for postage stamps 42 years ago is being sold in Norfolk. Prof John Hedgecoe used the Hasselblad 503CX to take pictures of the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 22 June 1966. One of the images was used by the artist Machin to model a plaster cast, before Prof Hedgecoe photographed the cast with the same camera for stamps. The portrait has been printed on every British stamp for the last 40 years and the image reprinted 200 billion times."
How would we recognize a King? On a postage stamp, wearing a crown, the way they spoke, what they wear, sitting on a throne...
Today is Christ the King Sunday. Jesus is the ultimate King. He was a different kind of King. He went about helping others. He came "not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many" Mark 10:45. Those who live under his Kingship naturally live according to his values. They want to help others.
40 "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
So a "brother" of Jesus is equal to Jesus the King. When someone helps this "brother", a fellow believer, they are actually helping Jesus.
In Jesus' day sheep and goats were frequently herded together. But sheep are docile, gentle creatures, whereas goats are unruly and uncooperative and can easily upset the sheep. Because they do not feed or rest well together, the shepherd would often separate them for grazing and for sleeping at night.
In the parable the sheep are surprised because they have naturally helped others and are being commended for this.
The goats are surprised because they did not notice those who needed help, or perhaps, they didn't consider them important enough to help. They were not condemned for doing bad things. They were condemned for failing to do good things.
I have a cotton shopping bag that I use instead of a plastic, carrier bag. On one side it says, "Plastic ain't my bag." On the other it says, "We are what we do. Small actions x lots of people = big change."
In this parable Jesus is saying "You are what you do. If your faith leads you to serve people in the way I did, you are truly my disciple and can look forward to spending eternity with me."
We can do small things but multiplied many times over we can and do make a big difference.
Note that Jesus identifies himself so closely with his brothers that, when they are helped, he is helped. He associates with the church in a similar way when it was persecuted by Saul. He asked Saul, "Why do you persecute me?" Acts 9:4.
This means that when we relate to other Christians we are actually relating to Jesus, because he identifies himself so closely with believers. So, next time you help another believer you are actually helping Jesus. And, if you are tempted to do anything negative to a fellow believer, be nasty to them, condemn them, talk about them, ignore them, not help them... You are being tempted to do this to Jesus.
Joshua Bell was not recognised as a brilliant violinist as he played his Stradivarius in the tube station. Let us be sure that we recognise Jesus in one another and do good to one another. Can I suggest that when we are dealing with another Christian we imagine them to be Jesus, with a crown on their head. A crown of thorns.
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Our reaction to the Queen continuing to be Queen of Australia ?
Can see quite nice to continue. Also see little point because Queen not involved in governing or has a day to day relationship with the country.
Illustrates the difference in monarchy today and in the time of Jesus. Then a King was all-powerful and, whilst he would not want to upset his subjects so much they revolted against him, what he said went.
In Chapters 24 & 25 Matthew records Jesus' teaching about his return. Two weeks ago we learned that we have to be ready because He will come again suddenly, and unexpectedly.
In this reading we see that Jesus is going to come again, this time in glory. He will be seen by everyone in all his splendour and majesty. His reign will not be established by an election but will come into being because of who he is and the power he has. This will involve the power to judge people. This is what this parable is about. It answers a vital question, 'How can I get to heaven ? '
A quick reading of this may suggest that this depends on good works. Helping people who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or in prison. But this is a misunderstanding of the gospel. One that is held by many people today.
The gospel of Jesus tells us that we are put right with God through our trust in Jesus death for us on the cross. The gospel also teaches us that this trust should radically affect the way that we live. Our relationship with God should affect the way that we relate to others.
So faith In Jesus leads to a right relationship with God and also to obeying God's ways. This includes loving other people by meeting their practical needs. It also includes prayer, worship, Bible study, church attendance, living a moral life, giving money to God's work, and so on. It is these things that are the evidence of a genuine trust in Jesus. Words alone are not enough.
The words of those who helped the others show they did not realise the full significance of what they had done. 37 "Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40 "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Jesus is united with his followers. Therefore, when a follower of Jesus is helped then Jesus is helped too. So when Christians help one another they are also helping and serving Jesus. It is this loving, sacrificial giving that is the mark of a true disciple.
Jesus promises that true discipleship will be rewarded will receive eternal life. But what is eternal life ?
John 17:3 Jesus said, 'Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.' Eternal life is knowing God through Jesus. We can experience that in this life, although this will be hindered by the fact that we live in the world. We will experience eternal life to the full after Jesus has returned. Then we will all have new, perfect resurrection bodies. We will be able to worship and serve God with all the other saints in heaven. We will live with God in the beautiful Holy City. The river of the water of life will flow down the middle of the main street in this city. It's going to be great ! It's going to last for ever ! The things of this life will pale into insignificance compared to the glory that awaits those who give their lives to the love and service of Jesus. But what we do in this life shows what is really important to us.