Christ is present in those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and in those who are strangers. When I served as the United Methodist bishop in Virginia, I found myself preaching in many
and varied congregations and settings. One Sunday I proclaimed the word in a large prison for women. The auditorium, turned into a chapel for worship, was filled to capacity with inmates, guards and some administrative staff. Everyone genuinely participated in worship, including the singing, the readings, and the prayers of the people.
While I preached, I noticed a well-dressed man and woman sitting on the last row near the aisle. After the service, we introduced ourselves, and I inquired about their presence in worship: “Why do you worship here on Sunday”? The woman replied, “We come every Sunday because we meet Christ here.” Her response directed my thoughts to Matthew 25:36 where Jesus said, “I was in prison and you visited me.”
We meet Christ in worship, in nature, in searching the scriptures in prayer and meditation, and in fellowship with other Christians. The Christ who comes as judge, as king, as the Son of Man, ultimately resides within the dispossessed, the poor, the marginalized, and those who have been pushed aside.
I am often tempted to stay in my comfort zone and allow “group think” to dominate the conversation. But Christ calls me and you to connect with those outside our immediate circle of friends and family. Where do you meet Christ?

Guide me, loving God, to where you are present, both in my personal relationships and beyond. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 25:31-46

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Lectionary Week
November 20–26, 2017
Scripture Overview

The universal rule of God, expressed in Christ the Shepherd-King, is a dominant theme in all the texts assigned for the week. Both Old Testament texts dwell on the nurturing, protecting role of the Shepherd-King, whose people we are. Ezekiel 34 gives the shepherd’s guiding and defending role a political twist by condemning the succession of shepherd-kings who have neglected and exploited the flock. Both New Testament passages celebrate the victory of Christ: the enthroned Son of Man of Matthew 25 separates the flock, and the risen Christ of Ephesians 1 is seated by God “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.” Christ guarantees God’s completed reign.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24. How does it feel to be compared to sheep with God as the shepherd? What would the sheep expect from the shepherd? What would the shepherd expect from the sheep?• Read Psalm 100. How would a total stranger know that your faith in God brings you joy?
• Read Ephesians 1:15-23. Would you say that you love God more with your mind or with your heart?
• Read Matthew 25:31-46. What is required for you to be so attuned to others that you would recognize the Christ in them? How will you ensure that Christ’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven?

Respond by posting a prayer.

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