Sun 22/11/20

Broadcast and Live-streamed Opportunities for Worship
8.10 am Radio 4 considers Student Life in Lockdown
9.00 am the Church of England Sunday Service is a service of prayer for the nation and will be available from 9.00 am at: A service of Prayer for the Nation | The Church of England
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A Sermon for Christ the King
22 November 2020
Ezekiel 34: 11 – 16; Matthew 25: 31 – end


Preachers often talk about the impossibility of telling Middle Eastern sheep and goats by looking at them, and I’ve seen it for myself in Israel, but it wasn’t until I became Chaplain to the Royal Cheshire Show, that I realised this is also true in 21st Century Britain.  Time and again in the Rare Breeds section, I’ve looked in a pen and thought ‘that’s definitely a goat’ only to discover it was a rare breed sheep, or the other way round.

Realise this, and the meaning of Jesus’ parable is obvious.   Only Jesus can carry out the work of Jesus at the end time.  We cannot hope to tell the difference between the spiritual sheep and the spiritual goats.

I could end this sermon here, except that we would miss the richness which so often underlies Jesus’ parables.

Sheep and goats are not so easy to distinguish as we think.  Surely, it’s easier to tell Shepherds and Kings apart?  Unless Prince Charles is out with the sheep at Highgrove.  Prince Charles’ hands-on interest in farming places him firmly in the biblical tradition of King David and King Jesus.

Today the church year ends with the feast of Christ the King.  Helped by Matthew’s Gospel, we think of Christ on his glorious throne, surrounded by angels.  It is a long way from Jesus, the Good Shepherd caring for his sheep. Yet Jesus is both King on the throne of glory and the Good Shepherd.  

Jesus is not the Good Shepherd one moment and the King of the nations the next.  He is Great David’s Greater Son.  If the shepherd boy David could become Israel’s greatest King, how much more can his Greater Son be both the Good Shepherd and the King of the nations?

We need to look for a moment at Biblical history.  God’s never intended Israel to have a King.  Israel had Yahweh is the God-King as their ruler and shepherd.  They had no need another King.  It is not surprising that the history of Israel’s kings is largely a sorry story of kings who fail to follow God’s.

Thankfully there is a glorious exception to this story.  King Saul has been a disaster.  If Israel wants a king, it had to be a man after my own heart.  And so God sent Samuel to anoint David, the humble God-loving shepherd as Israel’s king.  

David had cared for his sheep on the Bethlehem hills.  He had sorted the sheep from the goats and cared for the weak and the vulnerable.  As Israel’s King he will protect God’s fragile people from the powerful pagan nations around them.

This is the work of the Shepherd-King. Jesus is King of the nations.  He even has authority over the mighty Roman Empire.  He also has authority over the religious leaders who have led God’s people astray. Like David before him, Jesus is a Shepherd-King, but he is more than that.  Great David’s Greater Son exercises care and authority on a global scale.  He is the only One who can judge the people of earth.  Which brings us to the final thing we need to consider about the Shepherd-King.

Judging is an important part of the Shepherd’s work.  He must judge which are the strong animals capable of bullying the weaker ones.  He must judge the vulnerable animals needing extra attention.  He must judge which animals are ready to go to slaughter. 

Kings also need to judge.  They must know who the over-powerful bullies are and who needs protection.  They must judge who needs protecting and who might need punishing to reform behaviour and prevent them from bullying the weak.

Like it or not, Jesus the Shepherd-King has to carry out judgement.  It is part of his very nature.  The Biblical Jesus is no Gentle Jesus Meek and Mild.  The Biblical Jesus is the Shepherd-King, caring for the flock and making right judgements.

Jesus sees all the qualities of his flock.  He knows the vulnerable and gives them extra care.  He knows which members of his flock will encourage the weak and which will destroy them.  He knows who will follow and who will go their own way.  Most importantly Jesus judges justly and fairly.

We are merely observers.  We cannot tell who are the sheep and who are the goats in the flock.  Only Jesus is the Shepherd-King, Great David’s Greater Son knows that, and at the end of time he will judge the nations of the earth with mercy and justice.  In the meantime, we must resist judging on the Shepherd’s behalf.  

Instead, we must encourage the weak and the vulnerable and care for them on the Shepherd-King’s behalf.  If we do this, according to Jesus, we will find ourselves caring for none other than our Shepherd King-Jesus.

S Anne Lawson

18 November 2020

Prayers for 22 November 2020


The Collect for Christ The King


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;

who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen


The Post Communion Prayer for Christ The King


Stir up, O Lord,

the wills of your faithful people:

that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,

may be you be plenteously rewarded;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Prayers of Intercession


We pray to our Everlasting God, through our Saviour Jesus who is both Christ the King and the Son of Man and who understands our needs and the needs of this world.


Holy God, we raise before you the churches of the Cross Country Parishes. We pray that you will draw us together and unite us in the love of Christ that we may proclaim with one voice your justice and righteousness in a broken world.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.


Loving God, we pray for your world, of which your Son is King. We pray for peace, reconciliation and healing in the places of war, hatred, terrorism and the Covid Pandemic. We pray that the nations of this world may be united and subject to the rule of Christ the King, through whom and for whom all things were created.  We pray for earthly Monarchs, and especially Elizabeth our Queen, that may their rules be guided and influenced by the example set by your son who lives and reigns as King of Kings.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.


Father God, we pray for the communities of the Cross Country Parishes, of which your Son is King. We pray for our friends and families and our places of work and study. Help us to know the people around us to be our brothers and sisters in Christ and to serve them as He would serve them.

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.




Loving God, we pray for all those who suffer.  We pray that they will know the presence of your Son alongside them and the power of Christ the King within them bringing peace and healing for them and help and encouragement for those caring for them at this time of need

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.


Merciful God, we remember before you all who have died and who are now with your Son the king.  We give thanks for their resurrection into the kingdom of God

Lord in your mercy: Hear our prayer.


Faithful God, we give you thanks for all that you do in our lives.  As the church year comes to an end we commend to you all those for whom we have prayed throughout the year and ask that you continue to use us and our prayers to make a difference in their lives.

Merciful Father: 

Accept these prayers 

for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. 



 The Costa Blanca Anglican Chaplaincy (Adapted)


Christ Triumphant

Jesus Christ is waiting

Meekness and majesty

Thou dids’t leave thy throne and thy kingly crown