Christ the King Sunday, Last Pentecost, Nov. 22, 2015

Title:Christ the King Sunday, Last Pentecost, Nov. 22, 2015

  Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 22 2015  (full size gallery)

A blustery day for Nov. 22 but we had a good crowd at 47. We started at 10am with the first session on "Songs in Waiting" with 8 people.  We had two other classes – "Godly Play" with 6 and "Weaving God’s Promises" with 2.

We celebrated Cookie’s service with the Diocesan ECW since she will be retiring:

1. 2003 Region 1 – ECW President
2. Prayer and Worship Chair
3. Dominican Republic Partnership Chair (4 mission trip to the Domnican Republic)
4. Recording secretary since 2010.

Barbara Wisdom spotlighted changes with the ECW and Altar Guild in 2016. For instance, Coffee Hour will be known as First Sunday Fellowship.  

 We also celebrated birthdays – Toni Faibisy (Nov. 23), Marsha Dobson, Perry Bowen (Nov. 27).

Christ the King is the last Sunday of the Church Year. It is also the 26th Sunday since Pentecost back in late May, a half year. A half year has been spent healing the key scriptures in Jesus’ ministry according to Mark.In a week we enter Year C and will read from Luke but also John occasionally

The reading depict Christ in kinship terms with glory but in the Gospel as a different type of king and kingdom. In Daniel and in Psalm 93, the Reign of God is depicted as glorious and authoritative, but also as being manifest through a person who is “like a son of man”. In Revelation this one is seen as Jesus, who is revealed in glory and honor, and whose sacrifice is seen as the primary act in bringing God’s Reign into the world. Finally, in the encounter between Jesus and Pilate, the difference between human rulership and God’s Reign is starkly shown, as Jesus explains that he claims no human kingship, but is the king of a realm that is not of this world. It is a kingdom of truth and justice though not of "this world."

The sermon focuses on the New Testament reasons starting with the exchange between Pilate and Jesus. In somewhat disconcerting to reach back to Easter for this selection but it brings to focus what it means to be part of God’s kingdom.  Here are some key points:

  • 1. "Jesus speaks these words to Pilage “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 to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” But ironically, as he judges Jesus, Pilate ends up getting judged. He must choose between the earthly kingdom of the Roman Empire and the kingdom that Jesus describes, a kingdom not of this world.
  • 2. Every Sunday, we remember that Pilate chose to perpetuate the way of injustice, violence, suffering and death by which the Roman Empire maintained its power when he set his earthly kingdom over the kingdom of God to which Jesus claimed allegiance
  • 3. The arc of the church year itself brings us to this place of decision. And then, finally, we come to today, the last Sunday of the church year, Christ the King Sunday, and to put it bluntly, we get put on trial. We have to decide. God’s kingdom– The way of justice, love, freedom, peace, and healing? Or earthly kingdoms—which inevitably go the way of injustice, violence, suffering and death?
  • 4. And the first thing that we as individuals and we as a nation who claim to be Christian will be judged on is what kingdom, and whose power and glory we have actually claimed, and chosen to submit ourselves to in this lifetime. God is merciful, forgiving, loving and faithful. But God is also just and we will be judged.
  • 5. When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we are praying for a particular order which requires that we submit to something greater than ourselves.And yet, every time I pray for God’s kingdom to come, I’m at least giving lip service to the fact that I’m claiming to be a subject of God’s kingdom, right now
  • 6. Whether or not we choose God’s kingdom in our lives will be evident in how well we have tried to love God with our whole hearts, and souls, and strength and minds, and how well we have tried to love our neighbors as ourselves, neighbor being as widely and as expansively defined as possible.
  • 7. When we choose God’s kingdom above everything else, then in the midst of what is going on around us, we live as people of hope and humility, trusting that our hopeful prayer will be answered and that God’s kingdom will indeed come on earth.
  • 8. When we choose God’s kingdom over earthly kingdoms, we are choosing to have faith that in spite of all the chaos in the world, God is in control, and we hope in God’s goodness rather than to fear for our own safety.
  • 9. When we choose God’s kingdom in this world, we see signs of that kingdom coming to birth in ourselves and also in the world
  • 10. When we choose God’s kingdom in this world, we wrestle with the tough issues that can be found on the pages of any newspaper on any day of the week—tough issues
  • 11. A little later in his gospel, John tells us that Jesus, carrying his own cross, is taken to Golgotha, The Place of the Skull, where he is crucified and with him two others, one on either side of Jesus.One still chooses the ways of the world—Messiah, use the earthly power you must have as a Messiah to save my life. The other chooses the kingdom of heaven.
  • 12. So on this Christ the King Sunday, as the door of the old church year is shut behind us and we pass through the open door before us into the year ahead, may we choose God’s kingdom, so that we can wait with hope for its coming while we live as if it has already arrived in all its transforming and life giving glory.

Commentary by Canon Lance Ousley, Diocese of Olympia

Ironically, Jesus says to Pilate, "You say that I am a king." At the heart of Christian stewardship we need to be able to say, "Yes, Jesus, you are my king." And this is not only for a day, but for life to proclaim and submit to Christ as the King that is Alpha and Omega, who is, who was and is to come. This was a problem for the religious establishment and the popular culture of the Hellenistic world of Jesus’ day. But it also is problematic for our culture and even those in the Church.

In many ways we in the Church are like Pilate, yearning, but unaware that the answer to our life-quest stands before us in the person of Jesus Christ. As a rector of a parish I always loved the formative symbolism of laying our annual pledges at the foot of the altar on Christ the King Sunday. To me, it is a clear declaration on this particular day of our submitting to Jesus’ kingship in our lives, over and above the other things in our culture that vie for our loyalty. And I stated this plainly as I invited the congregation to process to the altar in thanksgiving and submission to Christ as our King.

Jesus, who is Christ the King, also has shown us what it means to be a true king. A true king is in solidarity with his people, understands his role as servant of all and one who gives all that he is and all that he has for the good of all his subjects. Pilate and others had a hard time with this because of the Roman-worldly distortion through which they had viewed kingship. And it was veiled to the religious establishment in Jerusalem because of the seduction of power and position and its material trappings. But neither of these are kingly models that Jesus holds up or lives out in his earthly ministry. Rather Jesus submits to being a true king for us and for the salvation of the whole world. And Jesus asks us, the Baptized, to be a kingdom of priests living into the sacramental life of showing the world his love through the outward and vision sign of serving the needs of the world. This counter to the culture in which we live, just as worldly power and position had made it counter to the culture in which Jesus lived.

But Jesus took on this role of true kingship with joy in his heart for what it meant for all people. And just as Jesus asked Pilate in regard to his question about Jesus being a king, "Is that you own idea?" Jesus wants us to own this theology ourselves and live into the joy of his kingdom.

So as you approach the altar on this and every Sunday remember whose throne is held there and the type of crown he has borne for all of us. Stop there and think if you are fully experiencing the joy of being in his kingdom of priests serving God through serving others with all that you are and all that you have. If not, submit yourself to him who is the Alpha and the Omega and discover the one True King.

Remember, you’ve got to serve somebody. So who will it be?

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