Christ the King, Nov. 20, 2016

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Title:Christ the King, Nov. 20, 2016

November 20, 2016 (full size gallery)

This was a blustery Sunday! A front came in late Sat. afternoon with a dark sky, light rain and then the heavens opened to orange light leaving with a rainbow. Sunday was mixed weather with alternating clouds and sun. The sun won out sometime during the service.

We had 3 Christian ed classes – preschool with Godly Play, youth with God’s kids and Adults. The latter studied the background of the Gospel of Matthew ending up with the genealogy in Chapter 1. This Sunday is the last one with the Gospel of Luke so it was appropriate moving into Matthew. Matthew’s emphasis of Christ as the king of the jews fit "Christ the King" designation for this Sunday. God’s Kids worked on the baptism covenant.

We had 41 in the service. The Hookers are seasonal guests over the year and they returned. We also had Andrea’s sister Carmen. We celebrated Alex IV, Alex V birthday today. We received a nice thank you from St. Andrews in Goldsboro, the church we helped with hurricane relief a few months ago.  

Today was the last day collection for most of the Season of Giving. The men apparently have sufficient funds for their Thanksgiving dinners they are providing. Samaritan’s purse brought together 17 boxes with help from the Godly Play  children.  

Speaking of children, there was a children’s sermon which utilized two of the traffic cones. The gist was that the traffic cones blocked our way to paradise. To be reconciled to Christ and remove the cones, and find paradise, we must seek reconciliation with one another.

Today’s readings honor the kingship of Jesus. Jeremiah the prophet announces the coming of a righteous and wise king. Psalm 46 celebrates Yahweh’s lordship over creation and recounts God’s saving deeds for the people. The theme is the reality of God’s presence with the people whether in the midst of primeval chaos or of historical turmoil. To the Thessalonians, Paul asserts that God has brought us into the kingdom of Christ, who is our Redeemer and Reconciler.This letter addressed tendencies among the Colossian Christians to merge differing beliefs. They had apparently adopted additional pagan teaching and practices in order to supplement Christianity and thereby ensure salvation. The letter asserts the sufficiency of Christ and of redemption through him.  

The story of the two thieves is found only in Luke. It exemplifies Luke’s portrait of Jesus as the Son of Man, full of compassion, love, patience and forgiveness in death as in life. Like the epitaphs on some contemporary gravestones, the thief requests “Remember me,” that is, at the resurrection of the dead. But he receives more than he asks for.For Luke, the kingdom of God is present in Jesus and manifested in his death and resurrection. Today, not in some vague future, he will be with Christ–not just accompanying him but sharing with him in his royalty in Paradise. This is the promise for those who acknowledge Jesus’ kingship and share his passion and death

The sermon opening line was its summary – God’s peace is the great theme that runs through today’s scripture passages with the roles of Jesus in making it happen. Jeremiah forecast a king that will execute justice and righteousness. Colossians states Jesus is the greater reconciler which is shown in the Luke passage with Christ forgiving the criminals on either side of him. Jesus opened up to all of creation the way back into paradise – and as the Gospel states it happens today. "Paradise is that state of being in which we are right with God and with one another, and with creation." The criminal saw "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."

The way to paradise is through reconciliation. "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. 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” leading to us to forgiveness And forgiveness at the center of the cross makes our reconciliation with one another possible which depends on our response , “reaching forth our hands in love,” even toward those who have sinned against us.“ The writer of Colossians said that in Jesus all things hold together. 

"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."

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