Sunday 22 November 2020 Kinlochleven and Nether Lochaber Parish Churches

Opening Words May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.


 


Hymn

The Lord’s my Shepherd, I’ll not want;

He makes me down to lie

In pastures green; He leadeth me

  The quiet waters by.

 

My soul He doth restore again,

  And me to walk doth make

Within the paths of righteousness,

  E’en for His own name’s sake.

 

 

 

 

Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale,

  Yet will I fear no ill;

For Thou art with me, and Thy rod

  And staff me comfort still.

 

My table Thou hast furnished

  In presence of my foes;

My head Thou dost with oil anoint,

  And my cup overflows.

 

Goodness and mercy all my life

  Shall surely follow me,

And in God’s house forevermore

  My dwelling-place shall be.


Prayer Gracious and holy God we celebrate your love. You are great and mighty, a God worthy of honour and we praise you. We are your servants Lord, but often we don’t act that way so it’s good to remember that you are a forgiving God and that in Jesus we are granted a royal pardon. We receive it gladly. Help us who live in your forgiveness to care for others especially those who are troubled. Keep us in your love and renew us by your power. We ask it in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 


Scriptures Ezekiel 34:11- 12, 15-16, 20-23 11 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find my sheep. 12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day15 I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the injured and strengthen the weak. “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will surely judge between the fat sheep and the scrawny sheep. 21 For you fat sheep pushed and butted and crowded my sick and hungry flock until you scattered them to distant lands. 22 So I will rescue my flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge between one animal of the flock and another. 23 And I will set over them one shepherd, my servant David. He will feed them and be a shepherd to them.

Matthew 25:31-40  When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ 37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

 

Message I remember being chased by a goat when I was a boy and on holiday in Orkney. Goats are different in character to sheep or lambs, they are headstrong, unruly, aggressive, greedy, and not amenable to a shepherd. In the world of Bible times sheep and goats were often herded together but had to be separated at certain times, such as feeding. Jesus uses the idea of his true followers being like the sheep as opposed to the goats. If we are the way he wants then we are amenable to his care, we follow his ways of doing things. Jesus is a shepherd and a king, but not in the obvious way of being a king. We think of ‘king-size’ as unusually large, and we think of kings as surrounded by servants and cocooned from rest of us. But Jesus didn’t use power-games. Jesus came down to our level and mixed with the lonely, the diseased, the outcasts, and the rejected. Jesus himself became poor and an outcast, for our sakes. He identified with the least and drew them into his healing and renewing power. He invites us all to come to him, into a relationship with himself. At the heart of that relationship is loving, caring, sacrificial care for others, especially the poorest and most needy. One day Jesus will return as judge and he will expect to see his followers showing care for the poor and marginalised, displaying self-forgetful love, that is a true reflection of his own character. As we open ourselves to God’s Spirit we are made into the likeness of Jesus. This is ‘Prisoners Week’ where the church is invited to reflect on the needs of prisoners and their families. It is often said that prison ministry is not taking Christ into prisons: it is finding him there already, for he identifies with the rejected and the broken. There is a gospel challenge to serve Christ by ministering to the least, including the prisoner. And there is a blessedness in doing so, as I discovered when I was involved in it. It is about helping people find a sense of belonging, fellowship and worth. Prisoners need to overcome loneliness, isolation, recrimination, self-loathing. They can be drawn into a healing relationship with Christ. These needs are experienced widely and not just in prison settings. The message today is that we all are accountable for our actions including how we reacted to and responded to the needs of others. May we do the things Jesus asks of us. May we give ourselves in generous self-forgetful, Calvary-like love without thought of reward, as the love of God flows out from our hearts.   

     

     Prayer Lord Jesus you are a King of love and a shepherd to your people. Help us do the things you ask of us and be there for whoever needs us, the sick, the sorrowful. We remember prisoners, their families, prison staff, chaplains. Deliver us all from the pandemic. We sum up our prayer in the words you taught us, saying Our Father….  

 

        Closing Words May God’s blessing be upon us, the blessing of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.