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    Nov 25, 2018

    Christ the King Sunday Sermon

    Christ the King Sunday Sermon

    Passage: John 18:33-37

    Speaker: Father Will Lowry

    Series: All

    Category: All

    “My kingdom is not from this world.” In Seminary (I’ve told you how raucous our class was) we had some very good laughs about these words from Jesus. There were more alien jokes than you could shake a stick at. We even went as far as proclaiming one of our classmates the “Bishop of Outer Space” because of it.

    Perhaps we did this because even as (then future priests) we knew how uncomfortable Jesus’ words are.

    Traditionally a reading of this part of Jesus’ life from John’s view tells us that we can understand what Jesus means here by looking at all the things in our world that are not good or right and with faith know that when God reigns - it will all be made better. That’s not a terrible interpretation by any means, but I believe there is more to it.  

    It is simply NOT sufficient to suggest that the negative aspects of today’s world are made positive in Jesus’ kingdom. Nor, is it enough to think that we can name every bad feature in kingdoms of today and just turn them around to describe adequately the goodness of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is not simply the opposite of our kingdoms, it has to be more than -- it just has to be.

    Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday (aka the Reign of Christ) - the end of the season after Pentecost - the end of the “Green Season”. (Notice we are wearing white today - and next Sunday we will go blue.) But what really does that mean?

    Is it simply a designation on the calendar? Do we really know what we are talking about, perhaps wishing for when we talk about Christ reigning over us - in this world?

    Last Sunday evening as my family was gathered around our kitchen island we were talking about the upcoming holidays - (just before) Thanksgiving and Christmas. And like the good Episcopalians we are, we began talking about Advent and how we don’t want to rush through from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

    And not to go too far down a rabbit hole, I’ve made a little sign for you all. It is en vogue to protest things these days, so I have my own personal protest for you…

    Now, Advent is Latin for “Coming” - and according to An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (did you know we had our own dictionary?), “The season is a time of preparation and expectation for the coming celebration of our Lord’s nativity, and for the final coming of Christ 'in power and glory'.” That’s all well and good and we should indeed observe this time of preparation and expectation before the Nativity of Our Lord and Christmas Day.

    But today, we Celebrate Christ - the King. And, as I said, I think that we sometimes have a hard time imagining what that really means for our lives.

    The observance of Christ the King/Reign of Christ is a fairly new one in relative terms. Pope Pius the 11th instituted it in 1925 and it has only been celebrated on the last Sunday of the liturgical year since 1970.

    The reason the Pope instituted the Feast Day was because he was concerned about growing secularism - and he is probably rolling in his grave considering today’s trends. But Pope Pius’ intention was, in my opinion, well founded.

    What he imagined was a reminder to the world that Christ is King and sits at God’s right hand. To say that “Jesus is Lord” is a proclamation that the world seems to take exception to.

    But, none-the-less we as Christians persist. We continue to believe, to have faith, to proclaim that God in Jesus Christ is King of our lives and of the entirety of the cosmos. We believe that still, in the midst of discourse, violence, war, suffering, sickness, and all sorts of dis-ease - Christ is King. We have hope and we continue on. We believe that in the midst of all that destroys and tears down that Christ lives on and continues to create.

    We believe that nothing can destroy the love that lives in us through Christ Jesus.  

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it so well, “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence only increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    To put it more simply, light is stronger than darkness, love is stronger than hate, and with God, all good things are possible.

    And if we needed another example - or some sort of call of how to respond to the world - Jessica Ortner proclaims “In the face of fear I will love fiercely”.

    To proclaim that “Jesus is Lord” means that Jesus stands above all other earthly power and authority. This seems to put the Church and the World at odds, pitting one against the other. However, what it really means is that we (the church) are the way in which the world will be transformed into the Kingdom of God.

    So, today, we celebrate what the beginning of Advent means - the beginning of a time of anticipation - expectation - that the coming child will bring change to the entire world.

    Change that will make our lives, our circumstances, our world so different that we can hardly imagine what it might mean much less measure its glory.

    Amen.

    Photo by Vincent Guth on Unsplash