This story is displayed in the Kellock window at All Saints, Kempsey. This triptych displays a central Christ on a throne with two sets of people on either side. It is the attitudes of the people in the two side windows that we need to focus on when we hear this story from the Gospel. From the description in the Guidebook:
Do we belong on the right or the left?
the southern panel represents the sheep, those on the Son of Man’s right. The figures robes and colouring are suggestive of a more humble approach to the truth of the judgement and an ability to point to the truth of Christ’s presence in their lives. As pointed out in the descriptions above the figures in the northern panel appear to have an attitude of “Who me!” and disbelieve. The colours are also mirrored but are subtly darker in hue suggestive that these figures are ones that perhaps paid lip service to God’s word but did not live their lives in light of Christ.When we think about attitudes in our lives we are often unable to accurately assess our own. It requires an independent judge to see into our own hearts and minds. In assessing our corporate attitudes it becomes increasingly difficult as we are attempting to judge not only ourselves but those around us. We would all like to assess our attitudes as being on Christ's right. A humble ability not to point to ourselves but to point to Christ. However, the moment we start making such a call we place ourselves on the left. The corporate body of Christ's church have pointed to themselves as the path to righteousness. At the end of our liturgical year it is perhaps a reasonable time to reflect on ourselves not as individuals but as the body of Christ, not only in our places of worship but also in our Dioceses and denominations as a whole. Are we getting it wrong by expecting people to follow us when we are not demonstrating that ability to point to Christ in our midst and say "Who me?".
In our own conceit we think others should follow but we ourselves are in need of salvation and instead of saying how good we are we should be acknowledging our corporate faults and striving to do better in the coming year. Advent next week reminds us that we need to prepare, not only for Christ's coming but for our judgement by Christ the King. If we think that we are on the right hand we are probably wrong and need to place ourselves on the left not knowing and not anticipating what God has in store for us. Only when we begin to humble ourselves as the body of Christ both institutionally and corporately will we begin the transformation Christ requires of us. Only when we acknowledge that we do not know God's will and refuse to bow to our own wills do we begin to undertake the required penance.