Thank you to all who inquired after the health of the staff this past weekend. Last Thursday I had been fighting a sore throat and chills along with other symptoms that led me to contact my doctor. I was told to get a COVID test and to quarantine in a room separate from my family. As you might guess, the trickiest part was scheduling an appointment for testing. With the wellbeing of the staff and congregation in mind, it was decided we would not have worship this past Sunday. This gave me a chance to recover and kept the possibility of spreading an infection to a minimum. I am thankful to report that the results received on Tuesday night were negative. The offices were cleaned and sterilized over the weekend and the staff was able to be in the office this week.
In the meantime, there have been notable changes in the number of reported COVID cases in our county and throughout the Philadelphia area. Our bishop has strongly recommended that congregations move to online worship only. After careful consideration the Council has agreed to suspend in-person worship effective immediately.
While this is difficult news to share and read, there are things to look forward to in the coming weeks. It won’t be the Advent/Christmas we’re used to but I am hoping that it will be a season of hope as we prepare to celebrate our Savior’s birth.
+ Pastor Heidi
Lessons and Prayers
Sunday, November 22, 2020 + The Festival of Christ the King
This Sunday our gospel is Jesus’ great story of judgment. In the end, the faithful are those who served Christ by ministering to those who are poor, hungry, naked, sick, or estranged. In the first reading God is the shepherd who seeks the lost, weak, and injured and feeds them with justice. We gather this day to celebrate the reign of Christ and his victory over death, yet we await the consummation of all things yet to come. Acknowledging Christ as our merciful ruler, we go forth that his reign may be known in our loving words and deeds.
Prayer of the Day
O God of power and might, your Son shows us the way of service, and in him we inherit the riches of your grace. Give us the wisdom to know what is right and the strength to serve the world you have made, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
First Lesson: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Because Israel’s kings proved to be bad shepherds, Ezekiel declares that the Lord will assume the role of shepherd in Israel. The Lord will also set over them a shepherd-messiah, “my servant David,” who will feed and care for the people.
Thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
Second Lesson: Ephesians 1:15-23
In this passage, God is praised for revealing ultimate divine power in raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrected, exalted Christ is Lord of both the church and the entire universe, now and in the age to come.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus compares himself to a king who moves among his subjects to see how he is treated: what is done for the least of those who belong to his family is truly done for him.
[Jesus said to the disciples:] “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that 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 food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
From the Great Cloud of Witnesses
There lived a certain monk of very venerable life named Martyrius who on one occasion went to visit another monastery. On his way he met a certain leper, whose members were all afflicted with elephantiasis, who was trying to return to his dwelling, but could not through weakness. His house, he said, was on the road along which Martyrius was going. The man of God had compassion on the weakness of the poor leper, and so he spread his own cloak upon the ground, and, placing the leper upon it, wrapped him securely in the cloak, and lifting his upon his shoulders, brought him along with him. As soon as Martyrius reached the entrance of the monastery, the man he thought was a leper leaped down from his shoulders, and Jesus Christ, true God and true man, appearing in that form in which the Redeemer of humankind was known on earth, returned again to heaven. And when the holy man went into the monastery, the abbot said to him, “Brother Martyrius, where is he you were carrying?” Martyrius answered, “Had I known who it was, I would have held him by the feet.” And he told them that while he was carrying him, he had felt no weight. And it is not to be wondered at that he could not feel his weight who upheld him who was carrying him.
+ Gregory the Great, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers
Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS005300. · New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. · Revised Common Lectionary, Copyright © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts, admin Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.
Weekend Strategies for Being Church
Pennridge FISH Food Drive
St. Matthew's is starting a monthly touchless food drive for Pennridge FISH in our parking lot the 3rd Saturday of every month from 9-11am. Just pull into the parking lot and pop your trunk open and we will have volunteers available to get the food out of your car. The first drive is TOMORROW! Items needed: laundry soap, dish washing soap, crispy fried onions, stuffing mix, gravy, hot chocolate, creamed soups, boxed mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, toothpaste, flour, sugar, canned yams/sweet potatoes, ramen noodles, canned green beans, brown/white rice, toothbrushes, salad dressing, pancake mix, raisins, canned fruit, diapers sized 5, 6 & 7, pull ups, baby wipes, ketchup, mustard, meal helpers, canned meat, cake icing, incontinence bed pads, adult diapers (large size).
Congregation Business Meeting on Zoom
The annual Congregation Business Meeting will be held on Sunday, November 22 at 9:30am in-person or online on Zoom. Business items will include election of Council Members and adoption of the 2021 proposed budget. Please click here for Zoom link and if you do not have a computer you can access the meeting by calling 1-301-715-8592. You will be asked for the Meeting ID: 881 5635 7317 and then the Passcode: 375291. Please click here for Council bios.
Advent Bible Study
We're not gathering in person, but we can still study the Bible together. Join us via Zoom (you can log on with your computer or smartphone OR call in) during Advent for "Christmas in the Four Gospel Homes" November 30, December 7, 14 & 21 at 7:00pm. Not sure if you can make it each week? That's ok - log on when you can. Please click here for Zoom link and if you do not have a computer you can access the meeting by calling 1-301-715-8592. You will be asked for the Meeting ID: 828 8204 2576 and then the Passcode: 376059.
Saturday, Nov 21, 9:00 to 11:00am, FISH Food Drive
Sunday, Nov 22, 9:30am, Congregational Meeting
Sunday, 10:15am Online Worship on Facebook and YouTube