Holy Communion for Sunday, 22 November 2020

Prelude: Andantino from Harpsichord sonata in C by Scarlatti

Presided by Revd George Mwaura

Preacher: Revd Tim Norwood

Introit: Psalm 97

The Lord is King, most high above all earth. [×2]

The Lord is King, let earth rejoice,
let all the coastlands be glad.
His throne is justice and right.

The Lord is King, …

The skies proclaim his justice;
all people see his glory.
All you spirits, worship him.

The Lord is King, …

For you indeed are the Lord
most high above all the earth,
exalted far above all spirits.

The Lord is King, …

Call to Worship

Come to worship Jesus Christ, Alpha and Omega, the one who is, who was, and is to come.

We come to worship the one who rules justly.

Come to worship Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead,
The ruler of the kings of the earth!

Bread of Heaven, God with us!

Good Shepherd, True Vine! Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace!

We come to worship Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords!
To him be glory and dominion forever and ever!



Good morning, my dear friends, wherever you may be as you listen or read the service this morning. Today is Christ the King Sunday and I am delighted to be sharing fellowship with you on this great day, when we celebrate the kingship of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Opening Prayer

Almighty and ever-living God, it is your will to gather up all things in your beloved one, reigning in the universe in the power that is love. Mercifully grant that the whole of creation, freed from slavery, may serve and praise you through him who is alive with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Hymn: The King of love my shepherd is

The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am his
and he is mine for ever.

Where streams of living water flow
my ransomed soul he leadeth,
and where the verdant pastures grow
with food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
but yet in love he sought me,
and on his shoulder gently laid,
and home rejoicing brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
thy rod and staff my comfort still,
thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
thy unction grace bestoweth;
and O what transport of delight
from thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
thy goodness faileth never:
good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
within thy house for ever.

W.H. Baker (1821–1877)

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Confession

Yours, Lord, is the earth and all in it.
The valleys, mountains, seas, and spray; the land, the pastures, the trees, and fauna.
All around us, we see stories of your bounty, your exuberant goodness, your flourishing provision.
You have made us to live here, nurtured by this earth.
But even with all these gifts, Lord, we have shut our eyes to your goodness:

We have seen the broken and have not been moved to compassion.
We have heard people mourning and have not given them our time.
We have witnessed oppression and have not raised our voices.
We have seen the stranger and not said a word.

God, all around us, we are sorry for what we have done,
and what we have not done.
And we ask you to deepen your welcome in us,
so that we might deepen our welcome around us.


Please take a moment and make your personal confessions.


If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has taken away our sins.


Prayer of the Week

God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.


Bible readings

Ephesians 1: 15–23

Read by Michael Hunting

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.


This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: Jesus is King

Jesus is King
and I will extol him,
give him the glory,
and honour his name;
he reigns on high,
enthroned in the heavens –
Word of the Father,
exalted for us.

We have a hope
that is steadfast and certain,
gone through the curtain
and touching the throne;
we have a priest
who is there interceding,
pouring his grace
on our lives day by day.

We come to him,
our Priest and Apostle,
clothed in his glory
and bearing his name,
laying our lives
with gladness before him –
filled with his Spirit
we worship the King.

‘O Holy One,
our hearts do adore you;
thrilled with your goodness
we give you our praise!’
Angels in light
with worship surround him,
Jesus, our Saviour,
for ever the same.

Wendy Churchill (b. 1957)

Matthew 25: 31–46

Read by Richard May-Miller

The sheep and the goats

31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 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. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 ‘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. 35 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, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

40 ‘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.”

41 ‘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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison and you did not look after me.”

44 ‘They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or ill or in prison, and did not help you?”

45 ‘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.”

46 ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.’


This is the Gospel of Christ.
Praise to Christ our light.


By Revd Tim Norwood

The kingdom of heaven is the most important concept in the preaching of Jesus. It’s one of the most important concepts in the Gospel. And we find Jesus preaching about the kingdom right at the beginning of his ministry, as Matthew records it back in chapter 4.

And we find that having heard that John has been arrested and put in prison, he goes on a great preaching tour and his message is summarised in just one verse; From that time on, Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.’ [Matthew 4: 17] The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. It is close enough to touch. There’s a wonderful concept of now and not yet. It is breaking into the world as Jesus preaches. It is breaking into the world as God acts in the world. But it still lies ahead as something to be grasped, something to be gained. As Jesus goes on his great preaching tour, we hear that he preaches the good news of the Kingdom and as he preaches, he also heals the sick and puts people back in the place of wholeness that God would want them to be in. And that’s what the Kingdom is all about, it’s the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, everything being the way God would have it be, everything put right, everything broken in the world made whole. It’s the dream of God’s people through all these ages leading up to this point, waiting to be fulfilled. It’s what God’s people want to see: everything put right; it’s total peace. And Jesus preaches the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven is near, and that has consequences. And he calls people to repent, to change, to turn around, to do things differently.

And we’re going to find some clues in Matthew’s Gospel to what that might look like. But the very first teaching that Jesus is recorded to give is the words that we often call the Beatitudes, where Jesus goes on a mountain top and begins to teach. And he is teaching inevitably about the Kingdom of Heaven. And he says these words at the start of his teaching:

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

Matthew 5: 3

The Kingdom of Heaven is the heart of Jesus’ preaching. He is preaching about the coming Kingdom and trying to help people to enter into that Kingdom to find the peace, the wholeness, the world as God would want it to be. And the beginning of his preaching is these words: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ This is one of my favourite verses in the Bible, because it says so much of what is broken and what needs to be changed for many, for all human beings, really. Blessed are the poor in spirit. What does that phrase actually mean? I don’t think it’s a kind of spiritual phrase that says blessed are those people who don’t go to church or don’t do spiritual things.

Spirit, of course, in the Bible – ‘pneuma’ – is about life. It’s about wholeness. It’s the breath of God breathing in to people. It is life itself. So when someone is poor in spirit, they are poor in life. They are lacking the things that they would need in order to flourish, to live life in all its fullness. And that, of course, is what the Kingdom of Heaven is all about. But when Matthew, or Jesus, who’s putting these words forward, says the poor in spirit, the word ‘poor’ doesn’t simply mean lacking. It means, the root of the word is about crouching down to beg. So by talking about poor, we are talking about those who are bent over begging in desperation for something. They are poor because they are desperate for things that they need. And what they need is spirit. It’s life, it’s pneuma, it’s the breath of God. So for me, this phrase ‘blessed are the poor in spirit’, it means blessed are those who are lacking in the very things they need in order to live and flourish. Blessed are those who are so lacking that they are begging for life. Blessed are those who are begging for life, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is saying here that those people who are desperate for the Kingdom are those that the Kingdom is for: the Kingdom is everything that God would want to be true about the world. The Kingdom is perfection. It is peace. It is wholeness. It is hope.

And the Kingdom is for those who are suffering such a desperate state that they are begging for life.

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ So let me take you to the parable that our reading tells this morning: the parable of the sheep and the goats. This is a parable of the Kingdom, and it points ahead in the way that many stories about the Kingdom do: to the end of time, to the time when the books are opened and judgment is made and there is an expectation amongst people that all wrongs will be righted and everything will be made as it should be.

These are the stories that the Jewish people had been telling for centuries up to this point. And in the story, the nations are gathered. And the King, Christ the King, comes and stands and begins to separate the people from one another: to separate the sheep and the goats, and it is worth taking a moment to think that the sheep is a wonderful biblical image for God’s people. It’s the image of the sheep being gathered by the Good Shepherd. And so sheep, for the people listening to this story at the time, would have represented God’s people, those people who felt they had a right to all of God’s blessings. Those are the sheep, those who are waiting for God to come as the shepherd and rescue them. But in this parable, instead of rescuing them, he begins to separate them, separating out the sheep from the goats, from those who aren’t sheep, who aren’t part of the shepherd’s flock. And it happens in a most unexpected and challenging way, because the people listening to this story would have expected to have been regarded as sheep. Because of their nationality, their race, their religion; they’re the things that they have done to worship, the rituals they have taken part in. They would have expected to have been regarded as sheep in this story of how things are judged and how peace is given. But instead, in this story, Jesus does something really unexpected, and the King, instead of separating out people according to which race and religion and background deserves the blessing of the King, the King separates them according to the way they treat those in most need.

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 and in prison and go to visit you?’ And the King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,’ which takes us back to that line in the Beatitudes of ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ Blessed are those who are hungry for life. And what the parable of the sheep and goats tells us is that those who enter the Kingdom are those who put aside all the differences of race and nationality and ritual, and instead focus on the needs of those who are most desperately in need of help, those who are hungry for life.

And so for us in Milton Keynes in 2020. How can we be people who respond to the needs of those who are hungry for life and, by responding to those people, enter into the kingdom? Not just in the day, in the age to come, but in this world, how can we become people of the Gospel of Good News, who welcome the Kingdom which is now at hand?

Choral Meditation: O may we soon again renew that song

O may we soon again renew that song
and keep in tune with heaven, till God ere long
to his celestial consort us unite,
to live with him, and sing in endless morn of light.

John Milton (1608–1674)


By Penny Keens
(read by Pat Kyd)

We pray to our Everlasting God, through our Saviour Jesus,
who is both Christ the King and the Son of Man
and who understands our needs and the needs of this world.
Holy God, we raise before you your church. of which your Son is King.
We pray that you will draw us together and unite us in the love of Christ
that we may proclaim with one voice your justice and righteousness in a broken world.

Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for your world, of which your Son is King.
We pray for peace, reconciliation and healing
in the places of war, hatred, terrorism and the Covid pandemic.
We pray that the nations of this world may be united
and subject to the rule of Christ the King, through whom and for whom all things were created.
We pray for earthly monarchs, especially Elizabeth our Queen,
may their rules be guided and influenced by the example set by your Son,
who lives and reigns as King of kings.

Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.

Father God, we pray for our community in Milton Keynes, of which your Son is King.
We pray for the communities of our friends and families,
our church and our places of work and study.
Help us to know the people around us to be our brothers and sisters in Christ
and to serve them as he would serve them.

Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.

Loving God, we pray for all those who suffer, among whom your Son is King.
We pray that they will know the presence of your Son alongside them
and the power of Christ the King within them bringing peace and healing for them
and help and encouragement for those caring for them at this time of need.

Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.

Merciful God, we raise before you all who have died and who are now with your Son the King.
We pray for those who have recently died and for their resurrection into the Kingdom of God.

Lord, in your mercy:
hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we give thanks to you for all that you do in our lives.
As the Church year comes to an end, we commend to you
all those for whom we have prayed throughout the year
and ask that you continue to use us and our prayers to make a difference in their lives.

Merciful Father:
accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Holy Communion

The Lord be with you,
and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, good and a joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
You formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life.
When we turned away, and our love failed, your love remained steadfast.
You delivered us from captivity, made covenant to be our sovereign God,
and spoke to us through your prophets.
And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy are you God and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.
Your Spirit anointed him to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people.
He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us,
he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,
gave it to his disciples, and said: ‘Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’
When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you,
gave it to his disciples, and said: ‘Drink from this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’

And so, in remembrance of these mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith saying:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Merciful Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Holy food, for God’s broken people.
By your Spirit makes us one with Christ,
one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory
and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,
all honour and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and for ever.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory
are yours
now and for ever.


Please take your bread and eat with these words:

The body of Christ, broken for my sins.


Then please take your wine and drink with these words:

The blood of Christ, shed for my sins.


Post-Communion Prayer

Creator God, you began a season of faith when you called us to be your beloved children.
That season continues in the turning of the years that we spend serving our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through his body and blood, may we be sanctified to continue to work in this world
through a Spirit-filled life of growth and fulfilment until Christ comes again in his glory.
Through every season, help us be your people, building your Kingdom.


Closing hymn: Rejoice! The Lord is King

Rejoice! The Lord is King,
your Lord and King adore;
mortals, give thanks and sing,
and triumph evermore:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

Jesus the Saviour reigns,
the God of truth and love;
when he had purged our stains,
he took his seat above:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

His kingdom cannot fail;
he rules o’er earth and heaven;
the keys of death and hell
are to our Jesus given:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

He sits at God’s right hand
till all his foes submit,
and bow to his command,
and fall beneath his feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

Rejoice in glorious hope;
Jesus the judge shall come,
and take his servants up
to their eternal home:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

Charles Wesley (1707–1788)


Blessings and Sending out

May the God of kindness, grant us more time for interruptions, and more generosity for kindness,
so that we might see Him in our communities and beyond,
and the blessings of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
rest and remain upon us today and always


Postlude: Allegro from Suite in D by Stanley