The Kingdom of the Sheep and the Goats

This Sunday we celebrate Christ the King.  The current curriculum material is focused on Praise, and I recall a few people saying that was not sufficiently content-rich as a topic.  This is a good opportunity to connect with the lesson and theme of the liturgy. 

Christ the King is the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent. We will be singing lots of glorious hymns about the royalty of Jesus Christ, but what kind of a king was he on earth?  People who knew him kept expecting him to be the kind of king they had seen before, but more powerful.  They wanted him to chase the Roman army out of Israel, and then be a ruler like King David.  Jesus kept telling them he wasn’t that kind of king!

What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ is our king? Jesus’ model of leadership is that of servant-leader. He cared for the poor, the sick and the friendless.  Jesus healed people who were sick, fed people who were hungry, and cared for everyone who needed a friend. As Christians we follow Jesus by doing what he did.  The Gospel reading for today is Matthew 25:31-46–The Sheep and the Goats (click on this link to take you to the text: http://www.lectionarypage.net/YearA_RCL/Pentecost/AProp29_RCL.html)  Jesus tells a story about people being divided into two groups (sheep and goats) based on the way they treat other people. 

Caution: If you use this text in your class, I recommend editing the text around verse 41 to omit references to cursing and eternal fire.  The language about sending “the goats” to hell and damnation is language I would not introduce in Church school.  It is 1st Century rhetoric that needs more context than I can give here.

Here are some questions you might find helpful:
     What person has always been there for you when you needed them?
     Have you ever helped someone?  How?
     What would Jesus call a person who bullied others: sheep or goat?

This passage is a clear statement from Jesus about how he wants us to care for each other: feed the hungry, give clean water to the thirsty, clothe people who are cold, take care of the sick, and visit the lonely.  Jesus is a king above all kings, because he cares with love and compassion for people who need help.  He wants us to help other people, and when we need help, he wants people to take care of us.

–Also–

We are going to be celebrating Thanksgiving soon.  Giving thanks means saying “thank you”–not just in words, but in actions. 
      What do you do to show someone you are thankful?
      
And a final note:
I have written this in a blog format to encourage you to respond by posting thoughts and/or suggestions so other teachers can benefit from your ideas.

Blessings! Mother Anne+