Christ the King Sunday, Year C

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Last Sunday after the Epiphany February 26, 2017 Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A Matthew 17:1-9
Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany February 19, 2017 Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A Leviticus 19:1-2, I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany February 12, 2017 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany February 5, 2017 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany – Reflections on Annual Convention, Susan Tilt January 29, 2017 4th Sunday after the Epiphany Matthew 5:1-12
Third Sunday after the Epiphany January 22, 2017 Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Psalm 27:1, 5-13, Matthew 4:12-23
Second Sunday after the Epiphany January 15, 2017 Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-12, John 1:29-42
First Sunday after the Epiphany, Baptism of Jesus January 8, 2017 The Baptism of our Lord, Year A The Book of Common Prayer
Epiphany January 6, 2017 Epiphany 2017 Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas Day, Year A December 25, 2016 Christmas Day, 2016 Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Psalm 98, John 1:1-14
The Eve of the Nativity December 24, 2016 Christmas Eve Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2: 1-20
Third Sunday in Advent, Year A December 11, 2016 Third Sunday of Advent, Year A Psalm 146:4-9, Matthew 11:2-11
Second Sunday in Advent, Year A December 4, 2016 Second Sunday of Advent, Year A Matthew 3:1-12
First Sunday in Advent, Year A November 27, 2016 First Sunday of Advent, Year A Isaiah 2:1-5, Ps 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44
Christ the King Sunday, Year C November 20, 2016 Christ the King Sunday, Year C Jeremiah 23:1-6. Ps 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43


Christ the King Sunday, Year C

Sermon Date:November 20, 2016

Scripture: Jeremiah 23:1-6. Ps 46, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43

Liturgy Calendar: Christ the King Sunday, Year C

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God’s peace is the great theme that runs through today’s scripture passages. 

The psalmist says that

“It is God who makes war to cease in all the world;

He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, and burns the shields with fire.”

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah points out that Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety when God raises up from the house of David a king who will execute justice and righteousness in the land. 

Jesus Christ, and no other, is the fulfillment of that prophecy. 

The writer of Colossians says that in Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and that through Jesus, God was pleased to reconcile to God’s self all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 

In the gospel according to Luke, Jesus, being crucified between two criminals, says, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Being able to forgive means letting go of the anger, resentment and the desire to take revenge against someone who has hurt you. Anger, resentment and thoughts of retaliation are like strong acids that eat away your insides if you continue to fill yourself with them. 

If anyone had a right to be full of anger, Jesus was that person.

Imagine spending your life healing the sick, feeding the hungry, casting out demons, and telling people about God’s love, and calling people back to God’s way instead of the way of the world, only to be put to death on a cross.  Anger and hatred for those who were responsible for his suffering and death would have been a natural and very human response on the part of Jesus.

But Jesus forgave those who condemned him to death, caught up in the systems they didn’t fully understand.   Jesus forgave those who physically crucified him by nailing him to the cross and raising him up on that cross between two criminals to die a slow and awful death. 

And in doing so, Jesus opened up to all of creation the way back into paradise. 

Paradise is that state of being in which we are right with God and with one another, and with creation.  All accounts have been settled.  Nothing is left to prove, or resolve, or to correct.  It is finished, we are free, and we are at peace with God and with each other and with the natural world.    

The criminal hanging on the cross next to Jesus who asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus came into his kingdom was asking for reconciliation with God.

“Remember me.  Make me right with God so that I can too can come into your kingdom.”

This criminal saw the truth about Jesus—that this lowly man on the cross was truly the King of the Jews, as the inscription on the cross read, and that Jesus was the king of even a criminal like him.

This criminal saw that Jesus was the king not only of the earth, whose people put him to death, but that Jesus was also the king of heaven, where all at last is eternally reconciled to God.  This criminal saw that even in the midst of hatred and violence, Jesus was the King of Peace who could open the way into paradise.

Studying the shape of the cross is helpful here.

The vertical bar of the wooden cross that held Jesus was rooted in the earth and reached to heaven. 

Do you remember that story in Genesis when Jacob is running away from home?   

He has cheated his brother Esau out of their father’s blessing, and Esau is angry.  So Jacob is running away.

And he has this dream in which a ladder stretches from earth to heaven and angels are going up and down on this ladder.

The vertical bar of the cross is like that ladder reaching to heaven.  God, through the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, opens the way from the sinfulness, chaos and disconnection of our earthly lives into the peace and unity of heaven.  God is saying “I forgive you for all the awful things you do to one another and to my creation as human beings.  I am asking you to love me as I love you so that we can be reconciled to one another.” 

Reconciliation is a two way street.  God opens the way onto this street by coming to live and die as one of us.  But then we have to decide to leave our sinful ways behind and, like those angels on Jacob’s ladder, start the journey up the ladder to heaven, or to turn onto the road of reconciliation that God has opened to us.  Reconciliation with God is impossible without acceptance and a response on our part. 

The other part of the cross is this horizontal bar of the cross.

“Jesus stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the cross so that all might come within reach of his saving embrace.”  But Jesus simply stretching out his arms of love in embrace is only the beginning.

For the crucifixion and death and resurrection of Jesus to lead us into reconciliation with our fellow human beings, we have to respond.  Our response to God includes our treatment of one another–to treat one another and all of creation with forgiveness and compassion by “reaching forth our hands in love,” even toward those who have sinned against us.

The forgiveness that Jesus offered from the center of the cross makes our reconciliation with God possible.   

And forgiveness at the center of the cross makes our reconciliation with one another possible.

The writer of Colossians said that in Jesus all things hold together.

When we find our marriages, our families, our communities, our nation and our world in danger of spinning apart,

That’s when we need to remember that God has already reconciled us to God by making peace with us through the crucifixion and death of Jesus on his cross.

It’s time to remember that Jesus has already opened for us the way to paradise. 

And our job, as Christians in this world, is to be people of forgiveness and to be peacemakers on this earth, to work alongside God for justice and righteousness, and to seek reconciliation with one another, including our enemies, because Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, is our one and only King.      Amen. 

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