Today is the last Sunday of the church year and we celebrate Christ being king.
Not a typical king that my children would think of with plush robes and golden crowns, but a king who wore a crown of thorns and dressed in simple clothes and sandals.
A king who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.
A king who leads his sheep into green pastures, who holds his sheep in his pierced hands.
A king who’s feet walked on water and then dangled bleeding from the nails on the cross.
The people called and cheered for Jesus to be crucified because he hadn’t lived up to their expectations, he wasn’t the kind of king and saviour they had hoped for. They were blinded by their confusion of Jesus’ upside down kingdom, where the last are first and the first are last.
On the cross we saw that anyone is welcome into Jesus’s kingdom, the criminal who hung by Jesus’s side at the crucifixion saw Jesus for the King he actually was, he said “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom”.
Those words uttered in that man’s dying breaths “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom” stirred up in me the wonderful power, glory, and love that comes from our thorn crowned king.
Today is also known as “stir up Sunday” where congregations would be reminded to get their Christmas pudding mix stirred up, so it would be ready for Christmas Day. The prayer set for this Sunday asks our lord to “stir up our wills to bring forth fruit, the fruit of our good works”
Stirring up is a interesting action, a dictionary definition states that to stir up is to to affect strongly; to excite.
In the book of common prayer, the stirring up action is also present. One of Cranmer’s goals whilst creating the prayer book was for ministers and congregations to be stirred up to godliness by God’s word.
He also wished to stir up dull minds to the duty of remembrance to God.
You can read these great bits of advice from Cranmer in the preface at the beginning of the book of common prayer.
But why is all this stirring up important?
In the gospel today we hear that when Jesus comes, he will sit on the throne of his glory, and when he does he will make a judgment, his judgement alone, and will separate the sheep from the goats.
But what things is our king looking for when making his judgement? What does he require us to do?
Feed the hungry
Water the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Care for the sick
Care for those who are on the outskirts, those who have fallen away from the path.
This is what we need to do to join Jesus in his kingdom and to do it without prompting, to do it with love for our fellow neighbour.
These are the fruits that we grow when we open up and let Jesus be the king of our hearts.
Today we think about advent which begins next Sunday, the period of preparation to welcome Jesus when he arrives into his humble crib. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus meaning coming.
I love the idea of us all going home today after listening to the set prayer and stirring up the fruits that will be enjoyed on Christmas Day. I imagine seeing the jewelled fruits in the bowl moving around with the incense of Christmas rising. I wonder if Jesus himself looks with joy and happiness as he stirs up our hearts seeing all the things we do as his people.
I pray for you all this week that Jesus will come and stir you all up in his love, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you. his faithful people, whom he loves and cherishes.
Let us remember the words of the man who hung on the cross next to Jesus, let us do everything in our king’s name,
Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Jesus remember us when you come into your kingdom.
Listen to the sermon here