Last Pentecost, Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018

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Title:Last Pentecost, Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018

 Last Pentecost, Nov. 25 2018 (full size gallery)

After a rough rainy day yesterday today, Nov 25 the last Sunday in Pentecost, was a mild November day with plenty of sunshine. It was evident in the pictures both outside and inside the church. We had 44 at 11am with a number of guests. Much of the Long family was here as well. 9am had 7 in attendance

Advent which begins next Sunday causes us to look back – and forward. We are looking back at the end of the church year but looking forward in anticipation of Advent. We have begun that process in the readings on Nov 18, this Sunday Nov. 25 and First Advent Dec. 2. Internally we are getting the Advent schedule together which is on the frontpage of this week, Nov. 25.

This Sunday is Thanksgiving Sunday, a time we think about giving back. In the Season of Giving, we begin the Christmas offering for the Episcopal Church Men that goes until Dec. 16. Gifts provided by Check should indicate “ECM Christmas.” Gifts for the Episcopal Church Relief for their hurricane fund also continues until Dec. 16. The UTO fall ingathering ends Dec. 2. We should still be “Filling the Ark” for the Heifer Project. The Calendar is here.

This Tuesday is Giving Tuesday to help us return funds back to the Village Harvest to be as generous as we can. Donate online or by mail – St. Peter’s Church P. O. Box 399 Port Royal, Virginia 22535

This is also Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church Year. It is also the 27th Sunday since Pentecost began back on May 20, a half year ago. A half year has been spent reading 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.

Today’s readings celebrate the paradoxical kingship of Jesus Christ. In Daniel , the one God sends to reign over creation is a human person. Revelation tells us that our trials and suffering will eventually yield to glory and honor when Jesus’ kingship is revealed. In today’s gospel, when questioned by Pilate, the suffering Jesus accepts the title of king but asserts that his kingdom is not of “this world.”

The sermon used the Gospel to explain Jesus’ Kingdom on this Christ the King Sunday:

“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.

“1 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

“2 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

“3. 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.

“4. This king’s hands are open to feed people, to heal people, to cast out demons and to calm storms, to give new life.

“5. Even on the cross, this king’s hands are open to the world and his arms stretched wide in a saving embrace.

“6. This kingdom is a kingdom of peace. Jesus waged the war for God’s kingdom here on earth with these weapons–mercy, love, and forgiveness. ”

The Daniel reading comes from the vision of the four beasts (7:1-14), which makes more explicit the history of the four kingdoms first introduced in 2:31-45. The divine judgment on the beasts determines the course of history on earth.

To the Lord comes one like a human being. Here the comparison stresses the human form of the one who represents the universal, everlasting dominion given by God to the people. In Daniel, he probably stands for God’s people (7:18, 27) who will receive the kingdom.

Psalm 93 is one of the kingship psalms (Psalm 93, 95–99) probably used for the great autumn festival at the turn of the year called Tabernacles or Booths. This festival included celebrating God’s kingship, perhaps with an enthronement ceremony. God is praised as sovereign over the world, especially over the waters, which symbolize the power of chaos.

Revelation reading takes its name from its first verse, which both describes its content and classifies it as the primary Christian example of apocalyptic writing. Today’s reading forms the introduction, which weaves together Old Testament images and themes shaped by the worship experience of the Church. The book itself is intended to be read aloud to the assembled worshippers, upon whom a blessing, the first of seven (14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14), is pronounced.

The risen Jesus is identified as a “faithful witness,” literally martyr, “firstborn of the dead” and “ruler of the kings of the earth.” (v. 5). His continuing love and his final redemption of his people frees them to fulfill their priestly calling to celebrate God’s presence in worship.

The divine self-proclamation (v. 8) combines titles of God from the Old Testament as developed in Christian worship. God is Alpha and Omega—first and last, whose existence spans all time. This title is here and in 21:6 applied to God the Father, and in 1:17 and 22:13 to the Son. God is also described as “almighty” (v. 8), the only attribute that the Christian creed mentions about God the Father.

The readings 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.”

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?”