November 2017

5th November: 4 before Advent: Matthew 24: 1-14

We all wonder what will happen to us ‘later on’ – when we die or when the end of the world comes - and the disciples had the same queries.  How they longed for Jesus to tell them so that they would know and be ready for what would happen.  But Jesus couldn’t be specific, and nor can he with us. It is not for us as mortals to know what the future will bring – but we do know, and can have faith in the promises that Jesus gave us.  He has ‘prepared a room for us’ – we are to ‘follow where he has gone’ – and, because of his death on the cross, the end is no longer to be feared.   

Are you worried about the future?  Can you draw strength from Jesus’ promises? – can you ‘stand firm in your faith’ in this life, leaving the rest to God who loves you and will be with you to the end and beyond?

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. ………….  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”.

12th November: Remembrance Sunday: Matthew 25: 1-13

This parable tells the story of those waiting for the ‘bridegroom’ – some wise as they were prepared, and some foolish because they weren’t.  We can all relate to this in some way or other – how often have we put off doing something, or delayed making changes in our life, because we are spending time, effort and money on the things of the moment?  We don’t know when things will happen in our lives which are unexpected or difficult to deal with – being a Christian is not an easy or straightforward task and it doesn’t mean that life and its challenges are simple

Is there something you feel you need to do in your life, which you are perhaps putting off doing?  Ask God to help you face the challenge and make the decision to start dealing with it – now! 

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

19th November: 2 before Advent: Matthew 25: 14-30

Jesus’ parable would make sense to his listeners – and rings true to us centuries later.  We are all given things in life – some are given money, some great intellectual ability, some special talents for entertaining, for writing, for helping other people; the list is endless.  God’s gifts are special to each one of us, and it often takes time to discover what those gifts are, and what God would love us to do with them.  It is sometimes easier to say ‘I can’t do this or that’ rather than making the effort to use the abilities we have and see where this takes us.

God can help us individually to make the best of our lives.  He can show us what he has enabled us to do – to befriend people, to encourage people, to witness about our faith, to visit people, as well as the more spectacular gifts of becoming, say, a famous film star, or writing a best-selling book.  Ask God to show you what he knows you can do well – for him, and for other people, and then with his help make a start doing it. 

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.  So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

26th November: 1 before Advent: Matthew 25: 31-45

When you love someone you want to do things for them – you want to make life easier for them – you want them to feel the love you have for them.  It is perhaps more difficult to see how we can do things for God – he loves us so much, and in return we want to show him our love – but how can we do this?  Jesus is saying that when we show love and caring to other people, then we are doing things for God.  To some people this comes easily – they are outgoing friendly people and it is no hardship for them to be like this with all they meet.  But perhaps for others it is more difficult

Is there something you feel God wants you to do for other people – to share his love in some way with them?  It could be visiting someone who is ill or lonely; offering time to help to a young family struggling with work and active children; or just smiling and encouraging a nervous newcomer at work/college – or something else?  God gives us the opportunities – let us grasp them with enthusiasm in his name.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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