Sermon by the Rev. Nancy Wynen
Christ the King, November 24, 2019
Why do we celebrate Christ the King? Is this the image of Jesus that we get from the Bible? Only from the folks around him, trying to describe him.
Kings are magnificent, awesome, rich, and have total control over their people. The commander of the military, the ultimate authority. Power. The people around Jesus used that term because there was no other title for grand authority and leadership, unless you include ‘emperor’ or ‘pharaoh’. No concept for president, no voice of the people. King was it. Gospel writer Matthew shows us Jesus’ lineage to King David as proof.
But, the Jews of that time were sorely disappointed. Jesus didn’t act like a king. He didn’t live lavishly, associate with the ‘important’ people, go to war against the Roman Army. He didn’t wear a crown, he possessed nothing, and lived with ordinary people, promoting peace and love of enemies.
We all know that God is King of the Universe. Just one look at the night sky can prove that. If Jesus kept referring himself to himself as God’s son, then, yea, Jesus would have to be a king. Yet Jesus said, “my kingdom is not of this world.”
Jesus taught about true power, true glory, and what will last forever. Everything based on human physical condition is temporary. Kings and nations live and die. God’s kingdom is spiritual, the only one that will last forever. Jesus told parables of what that kingdom was like, and how we can live in it, even as we live in the physical world from day to day.
Jesus understood that we live in a physical, messy world where things aren’t ideal. He invites us to overcome that mess and set our spiritual selves to create the Kingdom of God here on Earth. That kingdom doesn’t rely on human wealth or power, things we admire and idolize. Instead of idolizing a human king and putting a high value on material wealth, our attention should go to God.
Jesus offered us a new vision of a king – the servant-king. One who serves his people, not the people serving the king. Putting ourselves second, everyone else first.
How do we do that? Be like Jesus.
The perfect example of this is what we do during the next few months. Beginning with Thanksgiving. We invite family and friends to join us in gratitude for all that we have. We put extra food in the Food Bank. Then Christmas, we shower people with gifts. Even giving to those we don’t know by writing checks to organizations who help the poor, the forgotten, the families separated by war or illness.
Loving neighbors (and family). A servant or a servant-king does that. Over the years, I often tried really hard, working over the top on making or buying a special gift for my kids and Fons, using incredibly more time or money (or both) than I should, because I wanted to make them happy. Not trying to impress them with my generosity. But thinking of how to serve them best, what do they need, what makes them happy.
Jesus treated everyone he met as an equal, as someone to respect and honor. If we could all be like Jesus the King, wouldn’t life be great? The Kingdom of God on Earth. Sadly, our basic instinct is to survive first, then look around to figure out who is better or worse than we are. Where is God in our crazy world, we are asked? Actually, is it God’s fault that the world is crazy?
Do we follow what Jesus and his kingdom are all about to change the conditions we live in? Do we bring that kingdom of promise to our neighbors who need our help in God’s name? We can’t wait for what Jeremiah wrote about – that God will clean up the bad leadership so that we can live in a better world. To be like Jesus who is Christ our King, we need to do the cleanup.
After reading today’s Gospel, I wonder what I would have done if I had been back with Jesus at the Cross. Would we defend Jesus against his critics? He can’t be guilty of anything, so why punish him? That’s what a court decided this week here in the US. A man had been accused of helping bring water and food to some immigrants at the Texas border. Just water and food, not for or against the law. A jury set him free – acts of mercy should not be punished. It seems that the only way we can get back to Jesus’ teachings is to pass myriads of laws to force us to act with mercy and justice. We act from duty, not compassion. Jesus is all about compassion, our intentional love.
Christ the King may not be the best term for Jesus. But, in all honesty, we will always need a leader. Someone who can show us what to do, how to connect with God, how to serve each person with God-like love. Whatever you call Jesus, he is that leader. We can’t wait for what Jeremiah wrote about – that God will rescue us and give us the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. To be like Jesus who is Christ our King, we have to act in his name.
So, how will you celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas this year? Who is in this year’s family? What will you eat? What thanks will you share with those you see? Extra portions for those served by through the Family Resource Center or the Senior Center or the Hamlet House. Taking care of our neighbors. Through the Eucharist, we are Jesus’ own, we are empowered to do God’s work. Because we are servant-citizens of God’s kingdom and servant-citizens of Lopez Island.
Let’s make sure that the Kingdom we create will be around long after Christmas!
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord!