This Week’s Theme
The Least of These
At the end of his discourse with his disciples, Jesus referred to the time when the Lord returns “in His glory” (Matt. 25.31), and describes a scene where he will sit on his glorious throne judging the nations, who will be gathered before him. The words regarding the gathering of the nations (Greek, ta ethné) has been variously interpreted as “the Gentiles,” folk other than Jews, people groups, or national groupings. The groupings will be separated, with the “sheep” on his right, and the “goats” on his left (v.33).
To the sheep, the King will offer to the “blessed by my Father” the opportunity as heirs to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Then, the King makes a startling statement: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”
And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 25.35-40). These will enter because of they offered food, drink, clothes, care, and visitation on behalf of the King (vv. 35-36).
In the same way, the King tells the goats to depart from him into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels for they offered no food, drink, care, clothing, or visitation to the King. When in surprise they ask in horror when did we see you and neglect you in this way, the King will answer, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me” (Matt. 25.45). The goats then go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into eternal life (v. 46).
At the final judgment when the Son of Man comes in his glory with his angels, he will sit on his glorious throne and judge the nations, separating them as it were, sheep from the goats, with some receiving eternal life and others eternal punishment. The final disposition of the judgment will be determined on how we treated the least of these, his brothers, for how we treated them, so did we treat him.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
O ruler of the universe, Lord God, great deeds are they that you have done, surpassing human understanding. Your ways are ways of righteousness and truth, O King of all the ages. Who can fail to do your homage, Lord and sing the praise of your Name? For you only are the Holy One. All nations will draw near and fall down before you, because your just and holy works have been revealed. Amen.
~ from Revelation 15.3-4
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Saturday: Rev. 19-22
Psalm: Ps. 95.1-7a
OT: Ezek. 34.11-16, 20-24
Gospel: Matt. 25.31-46
NT: Eph. 1.15-23
(Click here for all readings)
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords; Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
~ Book of Common Prayer (Tickle, p. 242)
Affirmation for the Day
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land” (Deut. 15.11).
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Father of the widow and the orphan, help us to see in the least of these among us the Lord himself, who identifies fully with them.
For Your Weekly Journey
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Sovereignty of God, Romans 11.33-36
Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy