22 November - Christ the King - Fr. Randy

Sermon for Christ the King Sunday
November 22, 2015
Randy Williamson
The faith community, the Church, has got to have a message for a world so filled
with terrorism, violence and acts of war. The faith community, the Church, has
got to have a message for a world so full of fear, cruel-heartedness, hatred and
death. And the Church does have a message! Christ is King!
This is Christ the King Sunday in the Church throughout the world. This
celebration began back in an era of horrendous carnage - World War 1, the War
to End All Wars. The Church saw what was happening at the end of that war;
nations were still spending most of their resources to arm themselves, ready to
send their youth off to be slaughtered in more wars, devaluing human life. The
message the faith community proclaims is that we have a greater allegiance, a
higher set of values, a higher ruler, who has all of life in his hands. He is the
Ruler of Heaven and Earth. Christ is our true king, our true ruler. His is a
Kingdom of Truth, of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as he says.
Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday in the Church year. Next Sunday is
New Year Day in the Church year, as we start the season of Advent. Let me be
the first to wish you a happy new year for next Sunday! Today is the last Sunday
of the year, and we look back over the year and notice what we have seen of
Jesus: his birth at Bethlehem, his Baptism and Epiphany/showing forth glory as
the beloved Son of God, his going to the Cross, his being raised from death on
Easter, the fire of Pentecost and gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, and long
season of Pentecost when we have seen his ministry, his healings, miracles,
teaching. What we see in him is a regalness, a royal power to heal, to bring life
from death, to bring Shalom, the peace of God which passes understanding.
And so we say, “Christ is our true King” But his rule is so unlike any king,
president, or prime minister we have ever known. He is such a different kind of
That is what we have to pay attention to this Sunday. There is a legend of a
saint (St. Martin I think) who was met by a man along a road. The man was
dressed in a large purple royal robe, with a golden crown on his head, and a
scepter in his hand. He said, “Martin, I am king Jesus, and I have seen your
faithfulness to me, and I am here to tell you from now on you will share with me
in my royal riches and power and prestige” Martin looked at him and said “I will
recognize my king Jesus as he first appeared among us in Galilee and in the
Gospels, as a simple, humble teacher, full of love and compassion for all people”.
With that there was a shriek and a puff of smoke, and the demon who was
tempting him with a false image disappeared. Christ is King, but unlike any lesser
rulers we ever know.
Walter Brueggeman, a Biblical scholar, says we can hardly understand nor
endure the strange combination of majestic sovereignty and loving grace we find
in Jesus; the sovereign one who is so shockingly gracious; the gracious one
whose love demands so much of us. We see such power and regalness in him.
He stills the raging sea, lifts the dead to life, miraculously feeds the hungry. But
look how his power is excercised; for healing, comforting, feasting; he is taking
care of people, leading them, supporting and serving them. He is being a
shepherd. Maybe we should rename this Christ the Shepherd-King Sunday!
When he is brought to Pilate in today’s Gospel reading, Pilate asks him. “Are you
a king?” You can hear the sarcasm in his question: “Are you kidding me, you a
king?” Jesus speaks in riddles; “My Kingdom is not of this world”, (but a world not
yet fully come). “My Kingdom is one of Truth”.
He is of God’s Truth. With a humble effort we could search scripture and find
some central elements of what God’s truth is. Here are three elements found
throughout the Bible. One: every human being is created in the image of God
and is due the respect and love for such a good creation. A second element of
truth: the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; we do not own it, it is God’s
creation, and God partners with us to be stewards, caretakers of the earth and its
environment. A third element of truth: God partners with us to be caretakers of ...
one another. We are called to be the Good Samaritan to each other. Words
which appear over and over in scripture are: welcome the stranger, feed the
hungry, care for those who are afflicted.
His Kingship of God’s Truth is above all else. It is above our ability to control or
mold the world in our selfish image or agenda. We do not have him as a
resource, he has us. We are not in control of him; he of us. When we say Christ
the King, this has nothing to do with our normal political machinations; it has to
do with God’s sovereignty and rule in our lives. If we look for gaudy royalty, we
find a gentle shepherd who seeks the lost, brings home the strays, and
strengthens the week.The important issue now is, will we give our allegiance to
him. When we do there is a life-changing reality, the Truth, called the Reign of
Christ. Michael Curry in his sermon at his installation as Presiding Bishop picked
up this theme. We are the Jesus movement, he said, a people who claim him as
king. And when Jesus is king, people do not hurt each other; when Jesus is king,
people do not kill each other; when Jesus is king, children do not starve; He turns
the world upside down, which means upside right!
And so we choose to follow God’s Truth and attempt to live by it, or else all hell
breaks loose. And this is what we are seeing now: all hell is breaking loose!
Will we give our allegiance to him? That is the underlying theme of John’s
gospel. It is like the story of a man who fell off a cliff and grabbed a branch on
the way down and held on, dangling in the air. He looked up at the cliff’s edge
and called, “Is there anyone up there who can help me?” A voice came and said
“It is I the Lord God, and I will take care of you; all you have to do is let go”. After
a pause the man called out “Is there anyone else up there?” The serious point of
this silly story is, will we let go and trust God to be in charge?
This is a world so full of terrorism and hatred, fear and chaos. It is a complex
world and there is no simplistic solution to dealing with it. Is there a way to go
about living in it? The Church/ faith community says there is a Way and a Truth,
and a Life. It is the ruler of heaven and earth. When we let go and let him be our
sovereign, there is a new, a life-changing reality, the Reign of Christ. It will bring
us Shalom, the peace of God which passes all understanding, through Christ, our
Shepherd-King. Amen