Let Your "When" Be Now
When is an interesting, short word that can be an adverb, a conjunction or a pronoun. Here is the dictionary definition of when:
at what time or period? how long ago? how soon?:
When are they to arrive? When did the Roman Empire exist?
under what circumstances? upon what occasion?:
When is a letter of condolence in order? When did you ever see such a crowd?
at what time:
to know when to be silent.
at the time or in the event that:
when we were young; when the noise stops.
Till when is the store open?
They left on Monday, since when we have heard nothing.
Whether adverb, conjunction or pronoun, time is a factor in the word when. We are in an end time text -again. When will there be a vaccine? When will the world get back to normal? When will it snow? When we celebrate Thanksgiving what will it be like? When Christ comes again what will happen? When. When. When.
This weekend we hear the final verses of the twenty-fifth chapter in Matthew 25:31-46— the final teaching of Jesus prior to his betrayal, trial, crucifixion and death. These are probably the best known verses in Matthew 25. For so many they have served as a call to action. We will also hear this reading from Ephesians text which brought this song to mind. Here are the lyrics;
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You
To see You high and lifted up
Shinin' in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy
When is the time to sing holy, holy, holy? Now. High and lifted up- on a cross. Jesus is again turning things upside down and inside out. The “glory of Christ” is in his death, crucifixion, being with us in every time of darkness and despair.
The human ideas of glory and being glorified- in the “winners circle”, triumphant, powerful in the ways of the world —are not the ways of Jesus. On this Christ the King weekend we focus on this One who meets us in those we encounter in times of need. When you serve someone who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or imprisoned you get to see Jesus.
She was a woman for whom actions spoke so much louder than words. She committed living in the “now” of serving those in need. She is now known as St Teresa of Calcutta and for her this parable in Matthew 25 drove her life. St. Teresa of Calcutta called it the five finger gospel. You. Did. It. To. Me.
On Christ the King Sunday we celebrate Jesus as King, Ruler, Shepherd, Sovereign, Lord, Savior. This festival of Christ the King is meant to be in stark contrast to being beholden to the rulers of the world; presidents, dictators, emperors, chancellors, prime ministers, monarchs and many more. Christ the King Sunday started in the 1925 when there was fear of Christians following rulers of the world over and above Christ. Christ the King is an invitation to focus and reorient our Christian lives to be clear; we have no king but Jesus.
Shepherd and King as images- are intertwined. Jesus is not the king of a monarchy who reigns over- He is the one who lifts the lamb and carries it. The Shepherd/King makes one lie down in green pastures, restores souls, leads in right paths, has a rod and staff that comfort, prepares a table in the presence of enemies and anoints one's head with oil. This Christ, this King, is the Shepherd King. Ruling with love, tenderness and deep concern for the least of these. We are called to follow in Jesus' ways. When shall we do this? Now.
As we celebrate Christ the King we remember the “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. It was on a donkey not a stallion or in a chariot. All throughout his ministry, Jesus is turning things upside down and invites us to live in this way also.
In this final teaching Jesus shares the parable that invites his followers to see him even after he has ascended to heaven. Jesus knew the deep need they, and we, would have to see him, to experience him, to be connected with him- not just in the hereafter but in the here now. So he tells a parable about "when".
Do you want to see Jesus? Now?
Feed the hungry, give a drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned. When? Now. We trust we will see him -not just in the one day, some day, after we are dead day-— We will see Jesus and be with him in the here and now day; when we see Jesus in those around us.
Just as you did it to one of the least of these you have done it to me
In the November 19, 2020 daily devotion from the Center for Action and Contemplation this quote was included:
Evidence of the presence of the Kingdom of God is thick wherever and whenever people stand on the promise of God that there is more to this world—more to this life—than what we see. There is more than the getting over, getting by, or getting mine. There is more than the brokenness, the destruction, and the despair that threaten to wash over us like the waters of the deep. There is a vision of a world where God cuts through the chaos, where God speaks and there is light. There is a vision where there is protection and where love is binding every relationship together,
Lisa Sharon Harper, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right (Waterbrook: 2016), 205.
Jesus comes as Shepherd, as King, as Servant, as Son, as the One who calls us each by our most sacred name; beloved. Beloved of God let your "when" be- now.
Let love bind you in every relationship. Look to the needs of your neighbor, especially the most vulnerable. Love and serve them. When should you do this? Now. When will you see Jesus? When you live out the Five Finger gospel. When, "You. Did. It. To. Me". So when is the time to begin? You know the answer. Now.