Monday, November 23, 2015

Christ the King Sermon

November 22, 2015

Christ the King Sunday
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93

Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

Please pray with me,

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock, our strength and our redeemer.  Amen. 

What does it mean to act out of love or act out of fear? 

Think about it, what does it mean to act out of love?  And what does it mean to act out of fear? 

In our Gospel lesson today, we have clear examples of each.  As we hear the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus just before his crucifixion, we see the actions of both of these men.  I think that one acts out of fear and the other out of love. 

Pilate acts or reacts out of fear of Jesus and his teachings and actions.  He may also be acting out of fear as to how the crowds will react if he does not get rid of this so called King of the Jews. 

You see, he’s in a tricky, political situation.  Do you listen to the man standing in front of you?  Or do you listen to the crowds shouting outside of the windows?  Whatever happens with Jesus will greatly impact Pilates’ leadership and future. 

Even though he and Jesus are talking to one another, they seem to be talking on two different levels.  This is nothing new in the gospel of John.  We remember the misunderstanding between Nicodemus and Jesus when Nicodemus talks about being born again and Jesus talks about being born from above. 

We see it when Jesus talks with the woman at the well…she is offering him a drink of water and he wants her to have living water.  

It happens over and over again. Jesus tries to talk to people about who he is in the world and how his teaching, life and death will change the world, and people just don’t get it. 

It’s explained at the very beginning of the gospel of John, in one of my favorite Bible verses, John 1:5, The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

The King James version is this, The light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. 

You see, Jesus came into the world as the light of the world.  And the darkness of our world cannot comprehend that. 

We cannot wrap our minds around this great love that God has for all of God’s children that Jesus showed us by reaching out and touching the untouchable, the outcast, the sick and the poor. 

We cannot wrap our minds around an all-encompassing grace that comes to us in the form of a man who will conquer sin and death by dying himself.  It’s unfathomable.  And so we, like Pilate, try to comprehend, try to understand what Jesus is up to in our own terms. 

And when thinking about the political future, Pilate reacts out of fear as to what could happen if Jesus were recognized as king.

Jesus, on the other hand, acts out of love. 

He has nothing to prove.  Well, I guess he is going to prove that death can be defeated, and God has the upper hand in all of this, but he will not physically fight the system to prove it.  He will continue on a journey that will take him to his death because he knows that his death is not the end. 

Jesus acts out of love. 

He has no one to fight for prestige or posterity.

Jesus acts out of love. 

Where do we put our energy and our passion and our action in the world? 

Do we act out of fear or do we act out of love? 

We probably ebb from end to end of this spectrum. 

But I’m here to tell you: love wins. 

Love of God through Jesus Christ conquers sin and death and sets us free to love our neighbors and our enemies. 

That’s tough stuff, but that’s love at work in our lives and our world. 

And that’s the tough stuff that we try to wrap our minds around on this day as we remember Christ the King Sunday. 

We try to wrap our minds around Christ as king.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of a king I think of power, riches, castles and big fancy parties and a little lion cub singing, “I just can’t wait to be king!”  Maybe I watch too many Disney movies.  But you can probably see where I’m coming from. 

Yet Jesus as king is the complete opposite.  His kingdom and ruling comes through actions of love and grace, words and touch of healing and compassion.  His kingship is shown as he wraps a towel around his waist and he washes his disciples feet.  He is a servant leader.  He is one who leads by example of going to places least likely, touching people who are deemed ‘untouchable’ and by inviting tax collectors and sinners to dine with him. 

He’s not the king the people of his time were expecting. 

And in a way, he still may not be the king that we are expecting. 

We live in a world dominated by the view that the only answer to violence is more violence.  And the end result of that view is death.  (Lose)

So what does that mean for us as we watch the news and our hearts stir for refuges?

What does that mean for us as we watch the news and our hearts break for cities and nations impacted by violence? 

What does that mean as we see more and more commercials for gifts we ‘need’ to give this Christmas knowing that our local and global neighbors are hungry? 

What does that mean for us as we gather with family and friends this week to share in a meal that gives us a day and some time to give thanks? 

Sorry for all the questions, but I think that’s the challenge with today’s gospel text. 

We can see Pilate and Jesus in this interaction…and we know that love will win and what the final outcome will be. 

But in our own world….we do not know what tomorrow will bring. 

We do not know what the next big news story will be that will change our hearts and our world. 

But in the midst of it all, God is with us.

In the midst of it all, God continues to love us through Jesus Christ. 

God continues to be with us,

To give us strength and grace to witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and our King. 

I pray that we are able to witness to Jesus who demonstrated power through weakness, who manifested strength through vulnerability, who established justice through mercy, who build the kingdom of God by embracing a confused, chaotic and violent world taking its pain into his own body, dying the death it sough and rising again to remind us that light is stronger than darkness, love is stronger than hate and that with God, all good things are possible.  (Lose)

Let us go from this place,

Strengthened by God’s love and grace,

Empowered by the Holy Spirit,

And fed with the body and blood of Jesus to share God’s love with the world. 

And now may the peace, which passes all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and let all God’s people say, amen. 

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