St Stephen & St Agnes Church

Making God's Love Known In Windsor

The Face of God

—Gavin Koh, Christ the King (22 Nov 2017)

Ephesians 1.15–end; Matthew 25. 31–end

Gavin KohI’m going to paint you a picture: A district hospital out in rural Malawi. The medical ward has 20 beds but 60 patients. Patients are two to a bed, on mats between the beds and some patients are even under the bed.

Now imagine a woman. She trained as a doctor in England, and went out to Malawi because she thought she could make a difference she is on her own, the only doctor on the ward. Seeing all the patients on the ward takes her three hours, and at the end of the ward round, she goes off to the clinic to see the patients

who have been queuing since dawn to see her. She is already physically exhausted and her day has only just started. As she moves to the door, she feels someone tugging at her heel. She whips around and snaps,

"What do you want!"

A man on a mat on the floor, pushes a metal cup towards her. "You looked tired," he says. "I thought you might want some of my beans." In that instant, she saw the face of Christ.

Today is the Feast of Christ the King. St Paul says: “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.” [Ephesians 1]

Todays gospel reading speaks of the end of days, when Jesus himself will sit on the throne of judgement, and how judgement will be executed on that day.

Christ the King[Then the king will say to those at his 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 drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed 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 drink?
And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and clothed you?
...And the king will answer them,
‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of my brothers or sisters,
you did it to me.’]

This command of Christs, that we see Christ in our fellow human beings, is incredibly challenging. It is easy to see Christ in the face of widows and orphans, but the world is not composed of just widows and orphans.

Can you see Christ in the face of the three year-old child, Alan Kurdi, found drowned on a Turkish beach after his family’s failed attempt to cross the sea to Greece?

Can you see Christ in the homeless man on the street? What about the supermarket cashier?

What about the principal at the local school? What about the driver in the car just ahead of you,

who has just cut in front of you? What about the man shouting racist abuse

at a woman on the London Underground? What about Donald Trump, President of the United States?

What about the 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe as dictator from 1987 and has now been deposed in a coup d'êtat?

Alan KurdiThe book of Genesis tells us that we are made in the image of God, and however marred or disfigured
that image has become, Jesus still calls us to see and recognise that image in each other. I find that incredibly challenging...and yet...that is what the Bible commands us to do.

Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was born in 1910 to an Albanian family in Macedonia. She left home at the age of 18 to train as a missionary. She never saw her mother or sister again. The following year, she moved to India, And in 1931, she took her first vows, choosing to be named after Theresa of the Child Jesus.

In 1946, she felt a call to leave her convent and to help the poor while living among them. She founded the religious order now called the Missionaries of Charity, she won the Nobel Peace prize in 1979, died in 1997 and was canonised by Pope Francis last year [2016]. She was better known as Mother Teresa.

Mother TerezaI’m going to read to you from St Teresa of Calcutta:

“I see Jesus in every human being.
I say to myself,
this is hungry Jesus,
I must feed him.
This is sick Jesus.
This one has leprosy or gangrene;
I must wash him and tend to him.
I serve because I love Jesus.”

If you read the gospel, and I mean really read the gospels. You will find much in them that is comforting,

but you will also find much that is challenging. The gospels are not about fluffy clouds, rainbows and unicorns. The teachings of Jesus both ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’

[to misquote Peter Dunne]

We are called to see Christ in each other. The clear implication is that we are called to be Christ to each other. It is through our own actions, It is through how we behave to one another, That others come to know and receive the love of God.

I'm going to read to you from another Teresa, St Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582)

Teresa of AvilaChrist has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world,

Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,

Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,

Yours are the eyes with which he looks

compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Do that, and you will find yourself staring into the face of God himself.