Sermon – November 25, 2018 – Christ the King

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to comeAmen.                             (Rev 1:4b)

Today is the last Sunday of this church year. It is the day we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, the Reign of Christ.

Living in the United States of America, we have no king, no royalty to honor with military parades like those countries that are ruled by monarchs. I suspect we tend to romanticize nobility – perhaps especially the younger generation of the British monarchy – Prince William and Prince Harry. How many watched as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married earlier this year? I think it was broadcast on every network television station. It was a beautiful service that included many “new” and “non-traditional” things such as an African American preacher and a gospel choir as a bi-racial American woman became part of the British royal family.

That is what we find in our gospel reading from John. The reading is part of the trial narrative from Holy Week. It is the first conversation between Pilate and Jesus and it centers on the identity of Jesus. The old definitions and categories no longer provide answers for the questions being asked. Everything has been turned upside down by Jesus’ incarnation, that is taking on human flesh and coming to live amongst God’s people.

Pilate seems to skip all the preliminary conversation and jumps right to the heart of the matter, asking a rather surprising first question, trying to figure out who this person who is, who was, and who is to come by asking: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (18:33)

One way of viewing this dialogue between Pilate and Jesus is as elusive – confused – talking past one another. Another way of seeing this dialogue between Pilate and Jesus is that because of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension the word kingand kingshiphas been redefined and re-embodied by Jesus himself and now takes on a new truth that upends what was known previously. Pilate as any earthly king can never grasp who Jesus is or where his kingdom is without giving up his own power and authority. Yet, individuals, like you and me, gain power and authority by claiming Jesus as our king and his kingdom as our home.

As Pilate attempts to get a better understanding of Jesus’ kingship and kingdom, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not from this world.” (John 18:36)

I wonder how those words of Jesus sound to you? Do they sound like Jesus does not care about this world and what is happening to us here and now? Do these words sound like Jesus is just waiting to return to his kingdom in a far-off place and take his rightful place upon his throne? Or could these words of Jesus be pointing us to the words of John 1?

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

 

As we can see from the words of John 1, Jesus comes from God. The fundamental act of God and Jesus’ Kingdom is creation and bringing things to life – all things come to life through him. When Jesus says his kingdom is not from here, he is speaking about the quality of his kingship rather than a physical location. Jesus truly does care about this world and what is happening here, after all, he took on human flesh and came to dwell among us, God’s people. He experienced so many of the same things we experience daily along with things we do not experience –

  • emotionstiredness, sadness, I can imagine Jesus and the disciples laughingtogether, arguingover silly things like who ate the last donut?, hunger– teaching, preaching, healing for hours without a break, achy feet– constantly moving from city to city to preach the good news
  • Traveling– constantly on the move, never at rest in one place
  • Rejection – cities that did not welcome him and his teaching/Word
  • Crowds – requests for healing, those pressing in on him – in some places Jesus was a rock star.

Even though we live in the USA and are not intimately familiar with the language of kings, kingdoms and kingships we do believe that Jesus is our king. We also believe that God calls us together and that we belong to the Truth. And yes, my friends, the truth is the truth when it comes to God. As far as the truth not being truth when it comes to humans – that is a completely different story.

According to God’s truth, we are children of God, claimed in the waters of Holy Baptism, and we belong to the Truth, the Truth which is King Jesus.

We live into this Truth when we fight for justice for those being oppressed, feed our neighbors who are hungry, clothe those who are naked, and listen and learn from each other. We live into this Truth when we recognize the face of another child of God in the other.

When we listen to each other, learn from each other, we are allowing Christ the King to not only rule our lives but also this earth as the one who is, who was, and who is to come.

MAY IT BE SO
AMEN