The final Sunday in the church year contains one of my favorite passages of Scripture. When did we see God? When we saw a person in need. How did we show love to God? By meeting the person’s need. Matthew 25:31-46 is one of the most straightforward instructions for faithful living that we find in Scripture.

Jesus-the-Prisoner
Photo from forocristiano.com

My problem with this Sunday is its name. What does being hungry or imprisoned have to do with Jesus as king? Why do we even celebrate the kingship of Jesus in this day and age? Most remaining royal families around the world have become symbolic figureheads with no real power, or function as dictators. And does Jesus have to do with those images of king-ship? How might our culture change if, instead of “Christ the King,” we celebrated “Christ the Prisoner” this Sunday?

Additionally, the words of judgment are difficult for many modern audiences. When we believe that God loves without condition, we find it hard to believe in the existence of eternal punishment (where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth). Doesn’t grace stipulate that we can receive God’s blessing regardless of our works? Where is the grace in the reading from Matthew?

As always, the Revised Common Lectionary gives us many options for preaching. The shepherding image from Ezekiel has lots of possibilities for interpretation and application. The words of thanksgiving from Ephesians take on additional meaning for those communities that have just celebrated a holiday by that name. Perhaps it’s stewardship time for you, or a special celebration in the life of your congregation. Anyone observing Advent 1 this weekend in order to get all four Sundays of Advent in before Christmas Eve?

Please share your thoughts or insights below. Happy sermon prep!


Katya Ouchakof is co-pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, WI. She is passionate about social justice, paddlesports, and Star Wars.


RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

8 thoughts on “RCL: Advent – minus – one

  1. Maybe this scripture is more about healing our image of the Divine. The stern warning (IMO) is hyperbole. i think back to when my children were small (I had four in two years). Sometimes I’d get so exasperated that I’d say something like, “I’m going to make you dig a hole to China!” Didn’t make a bit of sense but it made them be quiet for just a minute anyway.
    This whole pericope is about the pharisees and those in power, taking the scripture/law literally. Jesus has not been taking it literally for a long time. He picks grain on the Sabbath, stops a stoning, etc. So, when Jesus goes on a rant – if we see God as a loving God Jesus has preached, we can deal with the hyperbole. Besides. I think Jesus likes goats. How could he not?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Let me restate to see if I understand your interpretation… the line about punishment is hyperbole, because Jesus loves both sheep and goats, but he really wishes that the goats would behave better. Is that about right? If so, I like it! That could preach 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been pondering how Jesus says “the nations” will be gathered….the word is also/usually “gentiles”. Does it change our reading if we think about it as those who were perceived as outside the covenant community? I don’t know…

    Last time I preached Matthew 25 a couple of years ago, I talked about how the sheep and the goats are both surprised—“when was it that we saw you and did these things?”

    I think I’m going to end up focusing on Ezekiel. I’ve added the beginning and middle verses in so I get the business about “you shepherds have not healed/sought/cared so I will” and “was it not enough to eat from the good pasture, you had to trample the rest of it?” I don’t know where that’s going yet though!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My women’s clergy breakfast went to town discussing the Matthew passage this week. I shared with them what happened Monday evening in Bible Study at church. No sooner had we finished reading the passage, than people started to say how wonderful goats are. They’re smart, they’re loving, they’re hilarious, especially when, as babies, they’re learning to jump. One woman went to a goat farm crouched down to pet a goat, and got a nice big kiss. I have the good fortune to know a HS senior who works at a goat farm after school; she’s bringing a goat named Clue tomorrow for the children’s message. I asked her to describe Clue, and she said, “She’s an enigma.”

    Liked by 1 person

We hope you'll join the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s