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Christ the King Sunday - Homily: "The Last Reel - Sheep & Goats" by Pr. Jim

                                             + FEAST of CHRIST THE KING +

The Last Sunday of The Church’s Year of Grace


660 Frances Lane

Ashland, Oregon 97520


The Rev. James A. Kabel, Intentional Interim Pastor

PRE-SERVICE MUSIC Here in This Place

The trumpets sound, the angels sing


A warm welcome to all who have gathered to worship this morning through our Zoom Service. With God as our Father, we gather as brothers and sisters in Christ in the Name of our Lord by whose sacrifice we have been made saints—forgiven sons and daughters. What a joy to be in God’s presence with angels, archangels, and the whole company of heaven!

AS WE GATHER “Friends Who Care”

On this last Sunday of The Church’s Year of Grace, we celebrate Christ as the triumphant King. Yet, the King of all nations has been among His people in disguise! None of His subjects recognized Him. Some unwittingly served Him, others did not. Only at the final judgment do the King’s subjects discover that He has been among them as the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the forsaken, the sick and the imprisoned. Those who know the hidden King also know best how to serve Him. They are friends who care. They have been blessed to be a blessing.


Our Lord and King, as You have given us the grace to know You as our Friend in our most dire need, move us to see the needs of others around us, those by whom we pass in our daily activities. In the mercy we show, let us prove to be friends who show care to those in need.

We ask this in Your holy Name. Amen.


THEME of The Day

On this final Sunday of The Church’s Year of Grace 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, thirsty, 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.

Gathered with angels, archangels, and the whole company of heaven on this Feast of Christ the King, we join them in giving praise and thanksgiving to our living Lord

PRELUDE I Need You Every HourRobert Lowry

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Turn to me and be saved,” says the Lord. “For I am God and there is no other.              

If we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins,

and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Let us confess our sins to God our Father and in the presence of one another.

+ A Brief Silence for Reflection +

Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have lived only for ourselves, denied our relationship with you, and excluded ourselves from the family. We are helpless and alone. For the sake

of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and let your light shine on upon us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

As the One who trod the winepress alone, Jesus Christ poured out his life for you. In him there is forgiveness, life, and resurrection from the dead. Rejoice in the Lord, your sins are forgiven in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

   Thanks be to God!


Let us adore our heavenly Father, who created us, who sustains us, who loves us

with an everlasting love, and gives us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the

face of Jesus Christ.    

We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord

Let us glory in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes, became

poor; who became obedient unto death, even death

on a cross; who died and is alive forevermore; who

opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers, who

is seated at the right hand of God in the glory of the

Father; who will come again, as Judge and King.

     You are the King of glory, O Christ.

Let us rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the

Lord and Giver of life, by whom we are born into the

family of God, and made members of the body of Christ,

whose witness confirms us, whose wisdom teaches us, whose power enables us to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think.

     All praise to you, O Holy Spirit.    


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 mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pastures 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 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 and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted 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.

The Word of the Lord.

                 Thanks be to God!

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.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!

SPECIAL MUSIC Praise, My Soul, the King of HeavenMatt Hyzer

Tatsiana Asheichyk, Piano

HOLY GOSPEL Matthew 25:31-46

[In this third parable about the second coming, Jesus compares himself to a king who moves among his subjects to see how he is treated. When he does return, people will be surprised and discover that he has come to them before, in ways they did not recognize.]

[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 this 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 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 have 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 will also 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.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

GRACE CHOIR He is King of kings—arr. Alice Parker

HOMILY The Last Reel – Sheep & Goats

Text: The Gospel Pr. Jim

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

                                               The Last Reel—Sheep & Goats

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +

Two questions have obsessed the hearts and minds of a great number of Christians over the years. How did it all begin? … and … How will it all end? At one time or another, we’ve all allowed ourselves to get trapped into the details of the end times … failing to appreciate and celebrate the larger picture. Little truths don’t always add up to The Truth—and so it is with today’s Gospel.

When you lay today’s text alongside Genesis 1, there are some significant similarities … created order and history begins and ends with God. Creation is no accident … and neither is the end of time. Chaos is brought into submission by a word spoken by God … and the final judgment is accomplished by the same power … a word spoken by God. In the beginning God created light and darkness … dry land and seas. And at the end of time God will again separate and fix the boundaries of His kingdom forever.

You see … it is the One who speaks at the beginning who speaks now and wraps up all things.

When the end takes place, two revelations will happen at the same time. The key figure of all history will be revealed. All heaven and earth will be present. And everyone will be saying: “Oh, my God!” Only some will be saying it more out of anguish than praise and thanksgiving. The mystery of the Word Incarnate … God in the flesh … will no longer be mysterious. Jesus will hand over the Kingdom to the Father … destroying forever all other dominions, powers, and authorities. And that brings about the second revelation.

Not only will all know and recognize Christ as King, but we shall also be known. Every human pretense will be removed, and the true servants of the King will be revealed. You see … not only is the end related to the beginning—but to everything that happened in between as well. The big winners here are not the power brokers … the movers and shakers. They bet on the wrong power—themselves. With goat-like stubbornness, they roamed and ravaged at the expense of others. They did what was right in their own eyes—with little or no concern for others. They didn’t listen to the Shepherd’s voice because they really weren’t sheep.

The goats get what they were angling for all along. They “did it their way.” They were too busy to listen to shepherds and all that “lay down your life and lose it” Gospel foolishness. “Besides,” they argue in their defense, “we didn’t recognize the scenes you described … we don’t ever remember hearing Your voice.”

“You never heard the cries of my brothers and sisters?” replies the King. “The truth is … it was My voice you heard in theirs. I was famished and you begrudged me the scraps and leftovers. I was imprisoned by the opinions and judgments of others and you did nothing. I was reduced to a series of digits by technology and you said that you didn’t make the rules. I was sick in heart—longing for a word of comfort and assurance—and you gave me a bumper sticker that read: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. You had no time for me then, and nothing has really changed now. Depart from me. I never knew you.”

Yet the words of judgment that fall like an ax on the goats are the welcoming words for the sheep—words of welcome that are outrageously generous. The sheep are welcomed because they bear the mark of the Shepherd they followed with complete and utterly blind faith. They, too, sought his sheep. Sure, they often wandered and strayed—feeding in some strange pastures off the beaten path. Only the Good Shepherd could recognize them as He sought them out … but they knew His voice and no one else’s.

They’ll be a mangy lot—those sheep the King welcomes. They followed the Shepherd through it all. Even when His commands and path were difficult, they heeded His voice and followed Him trustingly—never suspecting that that was the most crucial test of all.

Life … you see … begins and ends in the Word Incarnate. At the right time, God wrapped Himself in flesh and blood for us in Bethlehem’s manger. At the center of His life obedience—being about His Father’s business—was His death on the Tree of the Cross for us. The Cross and empty tomb are the key—the way home to the Father. All life is in His Name—for there is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved. The shadow of the Cross covers our deeds. The Word continues to be fleshed out in His people. Washed with water and the Word in our Baptisms we are born anew … made little Christs—His ongoing incarnation and presence to the world.

A cup of water … a listening ear … the tiniest kindness … peacemaking between friends or neighbors … compassion for those who stray … tears and words of comfort for those who grieve … these and other seemingly random acts of loving and living … all are embraced by The Christ as evidence of His kingly rule. Every act of love in His Name … no matter how obscure … is done as unto Him.

On this last Sunday of the Church’s Year of Grace, today’s Gospel offers a glimpse of the end of time—a glimpse to give us peace and joy … hope … and nerve to keep on going and going and going as His servant people.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. +


I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day He rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven

and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life + everlasting. Amen.


Longing for Christ’s reign to come among us, we pray for the outpouring of God’s power on The Church, the world, and all those in need.

A Brief Pause

Our gracious Lord and King, train our ears to hear your cry in the needs of those around us. Bless all social ministries of The Church through which we seek to serve others as

we ourselves have been served. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

You cause rain to fall on the just and unjust alike. Direct our use of creation to provide for the needs of all people in ways that are sustainable for the earth. Continue to provide the needed rains and weather conditions to bring all wildfires under control. Protect firefighters and first responders as they seek to manage any further devastation. Bring strength, comfort, and relief to those affected and displaced by the Almeda Fire especially: Pat & Penny, Lyle & Sandy, Richard & Doris, Norm & Marilyn, Pam, Sharon, and Linda (Vernia’s caregiver), together with those we name in our hearts. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Bring peace to every place where conflicts rage and people seek a more free and democratic representation, we pray especially for the people of Belarus. Guide our country in these post-election days. Heal the sinful divisions we erect between us and bless us with the necessary healing and change that only you can give. Kindle hearts eager to understand our common needs and seek our common good. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Shelter all who are vulnerable in body, mind, or spirit especially your servants: Kristel (whose surgery is scheduled for December 9th), Steve (lymphoma), Marguerite (MaryAnn’s mother), Rusty (under hospice care), Shari, Tammy and Dillon (Pam’s daughter and grandson diagnosed with COVID-19),together with those we name in our hearts … brief pause … raise the spirits of those who are home-bound in our parish, especially Sharon, Joyce, Richard & Doris, Bonnie, Vernia, and Elma that they may be assured of your presence through our prayers and acts of service and love. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer.

Bless this congregation as we seek to be wise in the use of our gifts and talents, living with our eyes open, watchful, and alert to serve as the signs of your grace in our communities and the world. Guide our Call Committee by your Holy Spirit as they consider the current list of candidates for pastoral leadership and ministry among us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Holy and immortal God, we give you thanks for all the saints who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and tended to the sick and are now at rest in your loving arms. Inspire us by their example that we may see your presence in those in need around us. Lord, in your mercy. Hear our prayer. 

Receive our prayers in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior, until that day when you gather all creation around your throne where you will reign forever and ever. Amen.



          Gracious God, you provide us with every gift of creation, and you quench

our thirst with living water. Receive these tokens of your goodness to us, together with all we have and are. May our lives be bread for the hungry and streams in the wilderness, signs of the abundance of your grace in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

In the night in which he was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying:

Take and eat; this is my + body which is given

for you. Do this in remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,

And gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my + blood

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness

of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.

LORD’S PRAYER            

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 and the power

and the glory forever and ever. Amen.


Blessed are you, God of heaven and earth. You satisfy us with good things as an eagle feeds her young. Renew our strength, that we may go with eagerness and joy into the places where you send us to work in Jesus’ Name. Amen.


The Lord bless you and keep you.

The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

The Lord look upon you with favor and give you + peace. Amen.


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