THE VICAR PROVIDES FOOD FOR OUR SOULS As we are not able to meet together on Sundays to praise God and hear his Word due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am providing weekly sermons on line as food for our souls. Please read them and meditate upon them. If you know of anyone who would appreciate a paper copy as they are not online, please inform me and I will arrange for it to be delivered to their home.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22nd CHRIST THE KING:FOURTH SUNDAY OF THE KINGDOM Readings: Ezekiel. 34.11-16,20-24; Psalm 95. 1-7; Ephesians 1. 15-23; Matthew 25. 31-46 Collect Eternal Father, 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; grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. MATTHEW 25, 31-46 Jesus said to his disciples, ’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.’ Smug and complacent If I am entirely honest, like many Christians of my persuasion I am pretty smug and complacent regarding my ultimate destiny. I believe passionately that because I believe that Jesus has died on the cross to save me from my sins I will go to heaven when I die without any doubt whatsoever. However, whenever I pick up a Bible and with an entirely open mind hear the words of my Saviour speak to my heart I am immediately disturbed. Why? Because I am shaken out of my smugness and complacency as my predisposed beliefs are challenged. Indeed, the texts cause me to be open to the possibility that things may not be as cut and dried as I would like to believe they are. The Parable of the sheep and the goats Take, for instance the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew chapter 25. It’s a parable about judgement. In the parable of the sheep of the goats Jesus speaks of division on judgement day. People are separated from each other as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. Some go into eternal bliss and others to eternal torment. Who are those who go to eternal bliss? Those who achieved great things in the eyes of the world? Those who did momentous things for God? No. Those who believed in Jesus as their Saviour? No. Those who did the little things, like feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, being hospitable to strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison. Conversely, those who come under judgement are not those who are openly wicked and evil, not those who commit great atrocities, not those who refuse to put their trust in Jesus as their Saviour, but those who fail to do these little things for the needy. Lessons for life 1. Good works are an essential facet of Christian discipleship This parable challenges us to remember that good works are an essential facet of Christian discipleship. Faith and good works are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have the one without the other. If our faith is real there should be a natural instinct to go out into the world to help those who are in real need. If our faith is real it should automatically lead to the performance of good deeds. A real faith automatically has practical consequences. We prove the reality of our faith by loving actions. The epistle of James reminds us that faith without works is as lifeless as a corpse. 2. It's not being good that pleases God but doing good In this parable Jesus gives us a sober warning that we are judged not only on the basis of our faith or lack of it, not the bad things we do, but also on the good things that we do or fail to do. The same truth is illustrated in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus found in Luke's gospel. In the parable, people ended up being punished not because of that they had done but because of what they had failed to do. It wasn't because they had done any harm to the needy, but because they hadn't done any good. It was a sin of omission. God doesn't simply want us to have nice feelings for others, or to feel sorry for them: he wants us to do something positive to alleviate their distress. Words and sentiments are not enough: actions are needed. If we fail we are liable to judgement. 3. The reality of judgement Lastly, the parable challenges us to remember that Jesus taught there is a judgement day coming, and there will be division. Conclusion When we all stand before the Lord on judgement day, remember he will ask all of us whether we proved the reality of our love for him, by loving one another.
INTERCESSIONS You are the king of glory, O Christ, you are the everlasting Son of the Father. May your kingdom come in us on earth, as it is in heaven, Christ our Lord. Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, I confess you as King of kings and Lord of lords; come, rule in my heart and claim me as part of your kingdom. I dedicate my life to you. I pray for all who are working for the bringing in of your kingdom: for those striving for justice, peace and freedom, for all relief agencies and bringers of aid. May your kingdom come in us as it is in heaven. Christ the King of glory, you are the Lord of the Church. I pray for the Church in Britain during changing and challenging times. I pray that all those in positions of leadership may seek the guidance of your Holy Spirit, and always endeavour to adopt an agenda not in accordance with the whims and ways of this transitory world but according to your changeless truth as reveal in scripture. Bless our local congregation during this time when we are unable to meet together and show us new ways to present the gospel in our local community. May your kingdom come in us as it is in heaven. I pray for rulers of peoples, for leaders of nations, that they may govern with gentleness and integrity. I remember all who suffer from injustice. I pray for the scorned and rejected people of our world, for all who have lost their freedom, for all who are deprived of their basic rights. I pray for the work of Amnesty International. May your kingdom come in us as it is in heaven. I pray for all who are struggling, for all who cannot cope. I remember weak and vulnerable people needing protection; and lost people longing for salvation. I remember before you the hungry, thirsty, and naked; the prisoners and the homeless. I pray for friends and loved ones who are sick or in need. May your kingdom come in us as it is in heaven. King of kings, my Lord and my God, I bring my personal prayers to you... May your kingdom come in us as it is in heaven. Lord Jesus Christ, ruler of heaven and earth, in you we triumph over darkness and death, in you we have life eternal. I pray for all our loved ones departed this life, that they may be one with you and your saints in your everlasting kingdom. I pray and that we, setting my heart on things above, I may be raised up where you reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever. May your kingdom come in us as it is in heaven. Come, Lord, rule in our hearts. Come, Lord, rule in our homes. Come, Lord, rule in our lives. Come, Lord, and transform your people. Amen. 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. Amen. Adrian Teale, November 2020.
NOVEMBER 15th : THIRD SUNDAY OF THE KINGDOM Readings: Zephaniah 1. 12-18; Psalm 90.1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5. 1-11; Matthew 25. 14-30 Collect Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son was revealed to destroy the works of the devil and to make us the children of God and heirs of eternal life: grant that we, having this hope, may purify ourselves even as he is pure; that when he shall appear in power and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom; grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. MATTHEW 25, 14-30 Jesus said to his disciples, 'A man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Investments In our society a lot of people who have a bit of money like to invest their assets so that they can get as much interest as possible from their capital. That is why so many are currently disgruntled because of the poor returns on their savings and endowment policies. The parable of the talents During the time of Jesus monied people also like to invest their money wisely so that they could have high returns on their capital. Jesus knew this and he used this situation as the basis for one of his parables; the parable of the talents. In the parable of the talents (similar to the present day gold bar) a wealthy man calls his servants and gives them money to invest for him while he is away. He gives to one five talents, to another two and another one, each according to their ability. No one received more or less than he could handle. If he failed in his assignment, his excuse could not be that he was overwhelmed. He then goes away. On his return the man discovers that the one who was given five talents has invested the money wisely and the money has doubled. So too the one who had been given two talents. Both are commended by their master, given greater responsibilities and are rewarded. Not so the one given one talent. He does nothing with it, but buries it. He is condemned by his master, the talent is given to the one has made five talents with his money and he is cast into outer darkness. What is the meaning of the parable 1. God gives us our gifts Firstly, the parable teaches us that God, our Master, gives us all our gifts. The talents represent any kind of resource or gift that we are given. God gives us our time, abilities, money, and other resources according to our individual need. 2. God expects us as good stewards and to use our gifts wisely in his service Secondly, the parable teaches us the necessity of using well what God has entrusted to us in his service. We are called to be like the two servants who used the gifts entrusted to them in the service of the Master. Some people do just that. They constantly use the talents and gifts and abilities that God has given them in his service as a faithful servant of the Lord. Many don't this in the limelight to gain the praise and glory of others but behind the scenes out of public view. However, some hold back, giving little of themselves to the Lord’s service. God’s wants us our total dedication and commitment as exhibited in the life of our Saviour himself. 3. We will be judged by God on the basis of how much good we do with the gifts God gives us Finally, the parable provides us with a sober warning about judgement day. The person who diligently prepares for judgement day by investing his or her time and talent in the service of God will be rewarded. Conversely those who fail to do so will come under divine judgement. Conclusion May each and everyone of us be faithful stewards of our God-given gifts of our time, talents and financial resources. When the time comes for us to leave this world may God find us all faithful in our stewardship of his gifts.
A PRAYER Father, you are the giver of every good gift: you give us our time, our talents and our financial resources. All that I have comes to me through your generosity. Help me to be a good steward of your gifts to me. As I have freely received all that I have from you, prompt me by your Spirit to generously give of myself in your service in the world. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Adrian Teale, November 2020.
Reverend Adrian Teale, The Vicarage, 10 Bryn Road, Upper Brynamman, Ammanford, Carms. SA18 1AU (01269) 822275