Almighty God, you have taught us through you Son that love fulfils the law. May we love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength, and may we love our neighbour as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew:
Glory to Christ our Saviour
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple — truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel.
Praise to Christ our Lord.
At Christ Church, we pride ourselves on being a welcoming church. We hope that from the moment a person first steps foot in the door of the church, to when they leave the hall after a coffee and chat; that they feel accepted, valued and part of us. The welcome I felt and perhaps you felt when you first came to Christ Church is deeply rooted in the building. But today’s gospel reading reminds us that there’s a another side to welcome, not the welcome we give – but the welcome we receive when we go out into society with the Christian message. There was a time at the beginning of Christianity when there was no building to welcome people into. It wasn’t until 200 and 300 years after Christ that it was safe enough to have purpose-built churches, open to the public and free from persecution. Until that point, the focus wasn’t on us welcoming people in to a church building, but other’s welcoming us in – into their hearts and into their homes.
Why should people welcome us? Why should they value, accept and be able to identify with what we bring? Well, culture says it’s because of how unique, authentic or desirable you are. Or, perhaps its social status or friendliness that counts. Many of these things are fine and good, but different to what Jesus focused on. Jesus isn’t sending you to represent yourself first and foremost, nor even Christ Church as an organization. Jesus says that anyone who welcomes you, welcomes him – not just ideas about him or an organization affiliated with him, but Jesus himself. It’s in those moments, when you show yourself to be a prophet, a righteous person, a disciple – here called the ‘little’ or humble ones, that you invite people to welcome Jesus in. When you’re doing the right thing; when you’re sharing God’s story of love and forgiveness; justice and healing; when you’re coming humbly to learn with others how to think about God and the world – in all of these ways, you bring Jesus with you. In the same way that Jesus revealed God in his life, you reveal Jesus in yours. At this time when our buildings are closed, it’s a timely reminder that the starting point of our faith was going out rather than calling in. That’s why, at the end of each and every Eucharist, we say “Go in Peace, to love and serve the Lord”. Get out there and be a prophet, be righteous and be a disciple. It’s through you that others will get the opportunity to welcome Jesus into their homes and into their hearts. Soon our buildings may re-open, and we’ll be able to welcome people back to them. But let’s keep this experience as a reminder, that our faith first calls us to go out and bring Jesus to others.
Gracious Lord, make our country a home which welcomes the stranger and refugee, giving them safety and hospitality. Enable our politicians, public servants and citizens to recognize and celebrate the humanity of all people and through our decisions, bring your justice and peace to the world.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Loving Lord, encourage your church to speak your words of healing and do your deeds of mercy, as we are sent on your behalf to the world. May those who encounter Jesus through us, welcome him into their hearts and homes, and enjoy the good news spoken to them by God. Guide our Bishop-elect Kevin as he furthers this mission in Glasgow & Galloway, and give all who work in ministry, both lay and ordained, the courage to share Jesus with others.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our Prayer.
Saving Lord, you bring us into the family of God to make us whole once more – at one in ourselves and with our creator. Share that wholeness with those who are ill, lonely or anxious at this time: Christine, Ian, Sam, Olive, Richard, Ros, Chris, Bill, Lorna, Joyce, Louyse, John, Avril, Helga, Karen, Colin, Margaret, Stuart. and reveal to them your presence, which never leave us.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Merciful Lord, you welcome us to your eternal home when our time on earth is passed. Grant rest, O Lord, to all of those who have recently departed this life, and thank you for your grace shown to Gordon Mitchell, who’s year’s mind falls this Thursday.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
All of these prayers we offer through your Son, who taught us to pray as those welcomed into the family of God, by saying:Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen