Dear Friends,

This Sunday we’ll be in the fourth week of our worship series entitled Sanctuary. Sanctuary — the word brings to mind a place of refuge or safety. We even use the term for nature reserves, which are safe places for animals. Of course, in our context, we think of the worship space that we call the sanctuary. In this series, we’re looking more closely at our beautiful worship space, seeing the symbols there and tying them in with scripture.

There is a symbol of Biblical and Christian doctrine repeated 11 times in the 55 sanctuary and narthex stained glass windows — the symbol of the Cross and the Crown. One of the interpretations of that symbol is that the cross reminds us of Christ’s death and the crown symbolizes the Christian’s reward of life after death. It has its scriptural basis in Revelation 2:10: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

The other interpretation of that symbol is that the cross symbolizes Christ’s death and the crown symbolizes Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 17:14 and 19:16)

This Sunday our theme is “Veneration” and our scripture is from Matthew 25, the Parable of the Last Judgment. Perhaps of all the teachings of Jesus, this parable is the clearest about how we are to live and treat one another and at the same time one of the most challenging. It shows us how to venerate Jesus through the way that we live and serve.

The parable pictures Christ, the Human One (a Messianic title) as the King. With all the nations gathered in front of him, he separates them “as a shepherd separates sheep from goats”— Sheep on the right, goats to the left.
And then Jesus says to the sheep: “Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.”

Isn’t this a powerful image? It always makes me think of Tolstoy’s short story, “Where Love Is, God Is” sometimes also referred to as “Martin the Cobbler.” In this story, a cobbler named Martin has a dream or vision that Christ is going to visit him the next day — so he excitedly spends the day getting everything ready. And, throughout the day as Martin is making his preparations, three different people in need of food, shoes, or clothing come to his door, and he stops to help each one. At the end of the day, Martin is distraught because the visit he was expecting never came. The punch line of Tolstoy’s story, of course, is that Christ actually came to see him three times that day — in the form of those people in need.

The message of this timeless story is clear: the way we venerate Jesus is by loving and serving all the people who come our way — and all the people to whom God sends us. When we meet the needs of others whenever and however they are presented to us, we are serving as Jesus taught us to do.
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday — live in-person and online from the sanctuary at 11:00 am.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor

Matthew 25:31-46, Common English Bible

31 “Now when the Human One comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.”

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWS

Subscribe to E-News

Subscribe to Newsletter Footer