Reign of Christ Sunday — November 26, 2017
Surprises can be absolutely affirming or downright disappointing. They range from the delightful to the unnerving to the dreadful. A well-intentioned surprise may add value to the quality of life or in-crease the heart rate so much it takes minutes off our life. Sometimes the first hint is hearing family or friends emerging from the shadows yelling, “Surprise!” At other times the occurrence is self-explanatory, as when the ring-bearer making the proposal drops to one knee.
Surprise gifts, surprise guests, and surprise gestures may evoke mixed feelings. Am I deserving? Is it convenient? Was it sincere? And even when we start the countdown 364 days in advance, there is ample room for surprises. Who will be involved? What will happen? Where will it take place?
A favorite preaching passage of mine is presented in the Gospel lesson this week. There are twenty-first-century movements identi-fying themselves as “Matthew 25 Christians.” The focus is on embracing ministry and mission efforts that care for “the least of these.” Deliberate decisions are made on personal, community, and corporate levels to care for the least, the lost, the lonely, the left out, and the left behind. And in the biblical record, assessment is based on how well we meet their needs. An amazing aspect of the parable is that both the sheep (vv. 37–39) and the goats (v. 44) are completely surprised by the outcome. “Lord, when was it . . .?” Surprise!
As recipients of care, I invite us to express gratitude for the blessings. As providers and conduits of care, I encourage us to keep engaging in faithful service to others and sharing God’s blessing with the world. As a worshiping community gathered for spiritual refresh-ment, I offer us the alert message: prepare to be surprised.
Hopeton Clennon, pastor, Central Moravian Church Bethlehem, Pennsylvania