Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom

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?
He says:

Feed the hungry

Water the thirsty

Welcome everyone

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.

Amen

Listen to the sermon here

 

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Blessed are those who are persecuted.

Last night my husband and I decided to catch up and watch Gunpowder on BBC iPlayer. I didn’t really know the detailed story of the gunpowder plot I just knew that on November 5th it was bonfire night. 

As the programme began I quickly realised that this story was meaning more to me than I realised. I watched the priest and his two ordinands hide away after mass in a private house so they would not be captured. My heart was in my mouth when the group sent to find the priest grew closer and closer to his hiding place. It looked like the priest and one of the ordinands were going to be caught, however the other ordinand, hidden in a window seat, made a noise to distract the men. Unfortunately he was found and he was taken away with the lady of the house.

As I sat there watching, I had a huge sense of sadness.  As the story progressed on, the ordinand and the woman suffer terrible deaths with the name of Jesus on their lips as they suffered. I was physically upset with grief for the violent death of Christians and of Christians killing each other. How much our Heavenly Father must weep with such loss!

As I buttoned up my cassock this morning, I still felt heavy with the thoughts of the persecuted in the past and today. I imagined if myself and my vicar had to suddenly hide at church because it was illegal to worship. 

Would I, like the ordinand in Gunpowder do everything I could to ensure Christians could continue to worship in the name of Jesus?

Yes I would.

According to Open Doors, 322 Christians are killed every month for their faith around the world. As we celebrated All Saints day today the thought of those who perish every month felt heavy in my heart. I thought about how they are now safe in the arms of our lord Jesus Christ and how I must remember to be so thankful that I can be an ordinand and not worry about having to hide or fear for my life.

Jesus says “blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12)

My prayer today is for the persecuted Christians around the world and those who have lost their lives in times past due to their calling to follow Jesus.

May our loving Lord hold them close as they rise in glory, in everlasting peace.