November 2020

Sunday 1st November:  All Saints: Matthew 5 1-11

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

In the Beatitudes, as these well-known sayings are called, Jesus sets out clearly the promises of what will happen when we try to live out God’s plan for each one of us.   God is with us as we go forward in life and is there whenever we are faced with challenges, problems or difficulties.  We are ‘blessed’ – we receive his love, encouragement and strength to deal with whatever comes our way.

God’s blessing is there for the asking;  do you feel you need help at the moment?  Are you struggling to deal with something, with life in general?  Ask God for his help – for his blessing – and know his love and strength flow into your life when you do.

 

Sunday 8th November: Remembrance Sunday: Matthew 25 1-13

“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 along any extra oil.  But the wise ones took oil in flasks along with their lamps.  When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here is 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,’ said the wise ones, ‘or 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 it, the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet, and the door was shut. Later the other virgins arrived and said, ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Jesus told this story to explain the importance of being ready for when God comes;  for when God calls us to do something; for when we are given opportunities to move forward in our spiritual life.  It is so easy to put off preparing for things rather than facing tasks and challenges as they come;  they are no easier to deal with if left, and in fact can become something of a problem if left too long.

Are you putting off facing something in life?  Is there someone you feel you should be in touch with? – something you feel you are being called to do? – something perhaps you need to say sorry for, and then move on?  Ask God’s help today to deal with it;  nothing is too difficult or too bad for him, and he will be with us every step of the way once we have had the courage to take the first step.

 

Sunday 15th November: 2 before Advent: Matthew 25: 14-30

For it is just like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted them with his possessions.  To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent—each according to his own ability. And he went on his journey. The servant who had received the five talents went at once and put them to work and gained five more.  Likewise, the one with the two talents gained two more.  But the servant who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned to settle accounts with them.  The servant who had received the five talents came and presented five more. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. 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. Enter into the joy of your master!’ The servant who had received the two talents also came and said, ‘Master, you entrusted me with two talents. 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. Enter into the joy of your master!’ Finally, the servant who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what belongs to you.’  ‘You wicked, lazy servant!’ replied his master. ‘You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed.  Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received it back with interest. Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents.  For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.  And throw that worthless servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

This parable of the talents gives a dramatic description of how God gives to his people and also expects from them.  Each of us is given ‘talents’ – things we are good at; different virtues such as patience, kindness, sympathy; abilities which vary from person to person.  God is generous in his giving – but he does expect us to use what he has gifted.  A lovely smile and generous heart will dry up if not shared;  the ability to teach and enthuse other people can result in an explosion of benefits when put to use; and inventive minds and skills shared are essential in our present world.

Do you have a gift, a talent, you could share?  Making the effort to do so can be so rewarding – for you as well as for the people you get involved with.

 

Sunday 22nd November:  Christ the King:  Matthew 25 31-46

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 place 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, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation 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 took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited 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 take You in, or naked and clothe You?  When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers 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 take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

We can all do things for God, whatever our age, and wherever we are on life’s journey.  It is often easier to ignore a challenge, hoping someone else will deal with it, than make the effort to do something ourselves.  Yet Jesus is saying that when we do respond and deal with what may be facing us, we are actually doing it for him.  It  doesn’t necessarily feel as if this is so when we are exerting patience with a stroppy child, coping with demands at work as well as at home, making that phone call, writing that letter, or visiting someone who is ill or just needs a visit – but God wants us to do it – for him.

Can we take with us each day the joy of knowing that whatever we manage to do, we are doing it for God?  

 

Sunday 29th November:  Advent Sunday;  Mark 13 24-37

At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And He will send out the angels to gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its branches become tender and sprout leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see these things happening, know that He is near, right at the door.  Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on your guard and stay alert! For you do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man going on a journey who left his house, put each servant in charge of his own task, and instructed the doorkeeper to keep watch.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know when the master of the house will return—whether in the evening, at midnight, when the rooster crows, or in the morning.  Otherwise, he may arrive without notice and find you sleeping.  And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Keep watch!”

Today marks the start of Advent, a time when we look forward to celebrating the  coming of Jesus into the world as a baby.  We also look forward to Jesus’ second coming, and we are urged to keep alert for this event in the future.  So we spend these few weeks before Christmas in prayer, in gratitude for what God has done, and asking for his help and guidance in the future.  In this of all years, it is a time to concentrate on his great gift, and not be weighed down by the problems the world is facing at the moment.

May you have a joyous and meaningful Advent as we look forward with hope and assurance in God’s promises.




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