This Is How We Do It


This week, “Christ the King” Sunday is observed on the last Sunday of the liturgical Christian Calendar.  In doing so, we proclaim our belief of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords is a continuing reign, having no end.  This makes the assigned gospel lectionary text an interesting choice for this particular observance.  It is the third “end times” parable from Matthew 25, “The Sheep and the goats.”

In my preparation for preaching from this chapter for three consecutive Sunday’s culminating with Christ the King Sunday, I read all of Matthew 25 as a single passage.  I found it to be one sermon with 3 points.  The sermon title for this entire chapter would be “A Mature Walk of Faith.”

The sermons’ first one comes from the parables of “The Bridesmaids.”  It is “Be Prepared.” In “A Mature Walk of Faith,” one is prepared to live life to the fullest, making the best of opportunities that come but also prepared to navigate life’s challenges.  The second point comes from the parable of “The Talents.”  It is “We Are Saved to Serve.”  In “A Mature Walk of Faith,” we use our talents to enrich our lives, help others and to bring glory to God.  Finally this week, I find it fascinating that the third point comes on Christ the King Sunday from the parable of “The Sheep and the Goats.”  It is “This Is How We Do It” as we are told to “feed the hungry, give the thirsty drink, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison.”  In “A Mature Walk of Faith” on Christ the King Sunday, we are reminded that as Christians we are to respond to others in need with the long reach of acts of kindness.

Richard J. Fairchild in the book When Lord, Did We See You” shares a story by the late Alex Haley, the author of Roots, of how his father had his life changed by a long reach of such a simple act of kindness:  Haley’s father was the youngest of eight children, living as a sharecropping family. Everyone in the family was needed to help with the crops. After several years of schooling the family pressed each child into service on the farm. Fortunately, the boy’s mother intervened on behalf of her child and was allowed to stay in school. When he was ready for college he chose the Lane Institute, working as many as four jobs in addition to full-time studies. It was all physically and emotionally wearing. He worked for a summer as a porter on a train and happened to meet a man early in the morning who couldn’t sleep and wanted to talk. This man was impressed by a black porter working to earn money for college and tipped him the unimaginable sum of five dollars.  By the end of the summer, Mr. Haley had to decide whether to convert his summer earnings into a mule and begin to sharecrop, or to stretch to complete his last year at school. He took the risk of completing college.  Alex Haley tells us what happened next: “When Dad arrived on campus, the president called him into his office and showed him a letter he had just received. The letter was from the elderly man whom my father had met on the train, and it contained a check for $518 to cover Dad’s tuition and living expenses for one full year.” This long reach act of kindness of an unknown friend made all the difference in the life of Alex Haley’s father, Alex Haley himself, and every succeeding generation of that family.

Jesus tells us in this parable of “The Sheep and Goats” that the long reach acts of kindness is in fact doing kindness toward Him, “Christ the King!”  The assigned Epistle text for this Sunday tells us that if we sow seeds for the long reach of kindness, God will ensure that we have enough to continue sowing those seeds of kindness in the future opportunities that come before us  I agree with Richard Fairchild and it is true for me also when he says:  “As a person who has been in just a minor degree of need, I know what the acts of love and care performed by virtual strangers can mean.”

Join us in worship this Christ the King Sunday morning, I will be concluding my look at three “end times” parables of Matthew 25.  This one is found in verses 31-46,  “The Sheep and Goats.”  My sermon title of course is “This Is How We Do It.” 


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