This service can be used at home if you are unable to get to church. As you pray and reflect, we trust you will feel part of the wider church community.
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence,
O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and forever. Amen.
Almighty God our heavenly Father
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour
in thought word and deed,
through negligence, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We are truly sorry
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us,
forgive us all that is past
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly king,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ only son of the Father
Lord God Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world:
have mercy upon us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most high,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen
First Reading: Ephesians 1: 15-23 – Paul’s Prayer
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I 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, so 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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 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. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Gospel: Matthew 25: 31-46 – The Judgement of the Nations
‘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. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then 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; for 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.” Then 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? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And 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.” Then 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; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I 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.” Then 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?” Then 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.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’.
Three questions you might ask about the readings
What strikes you from the readings?
What puzzles you from the readings?
What excites you from the readings?
Matthew divides his gospel with five teaching “blocks” – possibly echoing the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy). This is the final teaching of the final block – the culmination of all the disciples have heard.
This passage is not a parable, but it uses a vivid farming example of separating sheep from goats – the issue is simply that a mixed herd is being separated at night time into two groups. Jesus speaks far more about judgement than we are comfortable with – we have heard parables of bridesmaids being shut out, and lazy servants cast out, but here we have the Son of Man who is the King, casting judgement on all the nations, and it causes great surprise.
The key section of needy people either helped or not helped is repeated pretty much in full four times: the pace of the text slows right down – Jesus and Matthew want us to hear what is being said. We therefore should listen to it carefully – there may be surprise for us, or we should be working now to avoid “surprise”.
In the first block of teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says the poor and those who mourn etc are blessed; he concludes the Sermon by saying a wise person is one who not only hears his teaching but acts on it. His teaching is for us to live holy lives and to give where there is need – such is an appropriate response to knowing we are loved by God. Here in this final teaching the separation is according to how we have treated the needy; Some are surprised to find themselves inside – they did not realise that what they did for the needy was actually done for Jesus. Some are surprised to find themselves on the outside – they did not realise that in not-doing, not giving to the needy, they were ignoring the plight of the Jesus, hidden in our midst among the poor.
As we celebrate “Christ the King”, are we the sort of “servants” that will be commended by the master, the “bridesmaids” who will be welcome at the wedding feast. This final section of teaching is a challenge to make sure our faith and our lives match up, and maybe to re-evaluate. ..
St Paul says to the Ephesians: “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints,” that is a lovely summary of how it should be – faith in the Lord Jesus and love to others.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
he will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Please include your own prayers as well
In our prayers we pray for our church, our communities and our world
Lord God, we pray for our churches, our Turton Team, our Mission Community, our Diocese and the world-wide Church in every land.
Bless the leaders, guard the people, guide us in our future;
May we share the gospel in word and deed
and bring glory to your name;
Lord bless our churches we pray
Lord God we pray for our community
We pray for our schools, the children and staff.
We pray for all who work to make our communities a better place for others
We pray for Councillors and carers;
Lord bless our community we pray
Lord God we pray for our nation
May our leaders lead with integrity and justice
Give them wisdom and direct their decisions.
We pray that ours may be a nation
where the poor and vulnerable are cared for and helped
and where all may flourish;
Lord bless our nation we pray
Lord God, we pray for our world,
for the war-torn places, we pray for peace.
We pray that all may work together to alleviate need
and to protect this world for future generations;
Lord bless our world we pray
Lord God, we pray for those who are sick, in body, mind or spirit
We pray for those we know, and those who have no one to pray for them.
We pray for those who are dying and those who grieve;
We ask that you would give healing and peace to the soul
Lord bless the sick we pray
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in Heaven
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
Keep a moment of quiet as you allow God to speak to you,
as you let your spirit rest in God’s Spirit.
May the Lord
bless us and watch over us,
make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us.
May the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace,
and may the blessing of God Almighty,
our Creator, our Redeemer,
the one who gives us Life
be among us and with us all always. Amen.