On the day that I was ordained as an elder in The United Methodist Church, a beloved older pastor gave me some well-intended advice: “Joe, as a pastor you are so very fortunate
to be able to carry Christ to little children, to the sick, to the funeral home, to those in prison, to the lonely, and to all who are broken.”
My pastor friend, while quite sincere, was wrong. As I shepherded the people in my community and in the congregation, as I tried to be present to the hurts and hopes of people, I learned that the living Christ was already present in their situations.
My opportunity came in witnessing to Christ’s presence. The reign of Christ reminds me that I do not need to “carry Christ” anywhere; he is ever present with those who are cursed with overabundance and those who live in poverty. Our task is to bear witness to the One who is already present.
One way we show our love for God comes in loving others. God is incarnate in all people; all of us are God’s children.
When I am honest with myself, I acknowledge that I can so easily get caught up in my own interests and concerns that I have no room for others. I pray that the faith of others will not be crushed or stifled because of my introspection.
Jesus clearly states what we are to do. He also tells us what we are not to do: “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” When we turn from “the least of these,” we turn from the Christ who reigns over all and in all.

Almighty God, help me to glorify your reign by loving all whom you love. In the name of him who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. 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.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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