|Advent 2, Year A – the Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||December 8, 2019||Advent 2, Year A||Matthew 3:1-12|
|Advent 1, Year A||December 1, 2019||First Sunday of Advent, Year A||Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44|
|Last Pentecost, Year C||November 24, 2019||Last Pentecost, Christ the King||Luke 23:33-43|
|Pentecost 23, Year C||November 17, 2019||Pentecost 23, Year C, Proper 28||Luke 21:5-19|
|Pentecost 22, Year C||November 10, 2019||Pentecost 22, Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:38|
|All Saints, Year C||November 3, 2019||All Saints’ Sunday, Year C 2019||Luke 6:20-31|
|Pentecost 20, Year C||October 27, 2019||Pentecost 2, Proper 25, Year C||2 Timothy 4:6-8|
|Pentecost 19, Year C||October 20, 2019||Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 24||Luke 18:1-8|
|Pentecost 18, Year C||October 13, 2019||Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19|
|Pentecost 17, Year C – Rev. Deacon Carey Connors||October 6, 2019||Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year C||2 Timothy 1:1-14,Luke 17:5-10|
|Season of Creation 5, Year C||September 29, 2019||Season of Creation 5, Year B||Proverbs 8:22-31, Ephesians 1:3-10, Luke 24:13-35|
|Season of Creation 4, Year C||September 22, 2019||Season of Creation, Year C, Week 4||Luke 16:19-31, Amos 8:4-8|
|Season of Creation 3, Year C||September 15, 2019||Season of Creation, Week 3, Year C||Deuteronomy 11:10-17, Luke 15:1-10|
|Season of Creation 2, Year C||September 8, 2019||Season of Creation, Week 2, Year C||Genesis 1:26-2:3, I Timothy 6:6-19, Luke 12:22-31|
|Season of Creation 1, Year C||September 1, 2019||Season of Creation 1, Year C||Genesis 1:1-25, Revelation 22:1-5, John 1:1-5, 14|
Christ the King Sunday, Year B
Sermon Date:November 25, 2018
Scripture: John 18:33-37, Revelation 1:4b-8
Liturgy Calendar: Christ the King, Last Pentecost
“Christ the King” – stained glass, William Herbert Burnham (1943)
The jig is up.
The chips are down.
Jesus stands before Pilate, his life hanging in the balance.
And as the inquisition unfolds, Jesus describes his kingdom.
“My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over …But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
No wonder Pilate feels threatened.
The Kingdom of God is the ultimate threat to every human government that has ever existed or ever will exist.
Jesus’ kingdom is not from here, but he has brought it here.
And even now, Jesus has swung the gates of his kingdom wide.
Already, people have started flooding through those gates.
Even now, Jesus is calling us to come on in.
But warning—if you pass through these gates, you will never be the same.
Because if you pass through these gates, you will belong to the Kingdom People, and the rule of only one person and only one way of life will ever matter to you again.
Here’s why I passed through those gates, and why even when I forget and leave that kingdom, I always come running back.
Here’s why I pray for God’s kingdom to come every day, and for all of us to be fully in.
Here’s why I long for it more than anything in the world.
I want that kingdom to come fully on this earth because of who is in charge.
And that would be Jesus.
Let me tell you about our Jesus.
Instead of a crown made of gold and jewels, our Jesus wears a crown of thorns.
Anyone who would wear this crown knows what it is to suffer, to bleed, and to hurt. And so when I am hurting, I know that my king shares in my pain—because he is a king who would accept a crown of thorns, just as he would accept and share in our suffering. He shares our pain.
Instead of an AK 47 or some other weapon, this King Jesus carries a staff.
Our king doesn’t have to protect himself. He has come to protect you and me. Think of the words of the 23rd psalm. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thou are with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
This is a king who is watching my every step, not to condemn me, or have me put to death for all that I’ve done wrong, but to pull me away from danger, to guide me back onto the right path, and to lead me along that path.
Look at the hands of Jesus.
The hands of this king are always open.
Do you remember that story earlier in John, in Chapter 8, when the scribes and the Pharisees bring the woman caught in adultery to Jesus?
As the woman stands there in shame before the crowd, the scribes remind Jesus that the law of Moses says that such women should be stoned. You can just picture the metaphorical stones in their hands—they have already stoned this woman with their words, and now they are ready to stone her physically.
The laws must be upheld.
But in the Kingdom of God, mercy is the law that overrides all other laws. And Jesus is the king of mercy. His hands are open here in forgiveness, not retribution; in compassion, not punishment.
This king’s hands are open to feed people, to heal people, to cast out demons and to calm storms, to give new life.
Even on the cross, this king’s hands are open to the world and his arms stretched wide in a saving embrace.
And the resurrected king still bears the mark of the nails in his open hands, because compassion and mercy, by their very nature, require sacrifice on the part of the giver.
This king sacrificed his life itself so that mercy, grace, and forgiveness are forever pouring like water in a living stream on people thirsting for new life. That mercy is pouring out on me, and on you.
So this king is willing to share in our suffering, to protect us and lead us into right paths.
His law is mercy and from his fullness we have received, grace upon grace.
This is the king I follow, and serve.
Now let me tell you a little about his kingdom.
Listen to this Good News.
This kingdom is a kingdom of peace.
Jesus says to Pilate, “If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over, but as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus will never send us out to fight for our physical lives—because Jesus has already won the ultimate victory for us, and that victory is eternal life.
We have these metaphors of fighting in our theology, but they are all about how to stand up for the values of his kingdom—fighting as Jesus did—with creative non-violence.
In God’s kingdom, we are called to be people of peace.
You will say to me—but wait, we live in a broken world, where war is necessary.
And yes, it is.
One of the privileges of being a kingdom person is that I get to become a soldier in God’s army, just like everyone else.
In fact, this service is required, no exemptions–because God needs every soldier to wage this war of peace in a world wracked by war.
And God arms us with the weapons we need to fight this war—yes, these weapons sound useless when the jig is up and the chips are down, but these are the weapons that will pave the way for God to bring God’s kingdom to earth.
Jesus waged the war for God’s kingdom here on earth with these weapons–mercy, love, and forgiveness.
These weapons did not save Jesus from dying on a cross.
These weapons did not save Stephen from being stoned to death for professing Jesus as King Jesus.
Using the weapons of love, mercy and forgiveness did not save the early Christian martyrs from death.
And they won’t save our physical lives either.
In fact, these very weapons are the ones that will frequently put us on the front lines in the battle for God’s kingdom, and put our physical lives at risk.
But we must not be afraid to use God’s weapons of mercy, love and forgiveness, because these are the most effective weapons the world has ever known.
Mercy, love and forgiveness are the weapons God expects us to use.
The book of Revelation opens with descriptions of Jesus returning soon, bringing the complete and total rule of God.
“Every eye will see him, even those who put him to death, and on his account, all the tribes of the earth will wail”—because Judgement Day will be at hand.
And on this Judgement Day, God’s everlasting mercy, total forgiveness, and infinite love will at last obliterate the unforgiveness and the lack of mercy in our own hearts.
God’s everlasting mercy, total forgiveness and infinite love will blast away the chains that keep us bound to the death dealing ways of this world.
God’s everlasting mercy, total forgiveness and infinite love will destroy and erase from the book of life all the mistakes we have made.
And as that old Baptist hymn puts it, then
“Christ’s great kingdom will come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.”
So Jesus says to Pilate,
“My kingdom is not from here.”
But Jesus has brought his kingdom here.
Jesus is the King of Glory and the King of Peace, the King of Grace, the King of Mercy, the King of Love.
The jig is up.
The chips are down.
Our lives hang in the balance.
And only one question matters.
Who is YOUR king? Amen.