Christ the King Sunday 11/22/09

Revelations 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.  –Revelations 1:8

As someone who enjoys Biblical images and representations of our faith thoughts, this passage from Revelations stirs my imagination and reminds me of a way of showing the trinity.  I picture a triangle, with the Trinitarian sounding clip about a God who is past, present and future.   It’s an equilateral triangle, each side having its own significance and each point connected to the last.  Right on top of that triangle, I can see a circle that shows the unending, eternal quality of God.  The beginning and the ending are merged into one continuous loop that goes around and around.  This imaging of God helps me to remember that while I can understand some of God’s character, most of it is still very vague and indistinct.

Celebrating the Reign of Christ (Christ the King Sunday) just before Advent begins provides us with an opportunity to grapple with some of the mysterious truths about Christ, and the crises those truths often force us to face in our lives.  Discussions surrounding the King-ship of Christ necessitate discussions about power, about realities of this world, and about what the sovereignty of God looks like in the Kingdom of God that Christ proclaims.  These entire discussions circle around one important question: who belongs to the truth that Christ makes known?

Are you the King of the Jews?  Is Christ the King of your heart?

Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews, and in a very real sense we also ask Jesus about his authority.  We question God’s authority when terrible things happen.  We wonder where God is when we are suffering.  We want to know who it is that God rules over.

But there is a moment where Jesus’ response calls Pilate into relationship with Christ.  Jesus invites Pilate to meet him without pretenses, without the security of power.  In fact, Jesus opens a door that might have freed Pilate from the powers that held him captive.  Pilate did not have an easy road to walk, he was struggling to meet expectations on multiple levels.  Basically, Pilate is middle management.  He had to make the Jewish rulers happy, but he also had to satisfy his superiors in Rome.  He was hemmed in, and fear was his main motivation.

Coming to Christ the King Sunday, we encounter Jesus and Lord and Savior and we must ask ourselves: is Christ the King of our heart?  Do we allow Christ to rule our lives, our thoughts, our actions?  If Christ is not the King of our hearts, who/what is?  What or who do we allow to rule over us and decide for us what we are to do, how we are to think, or even how we are to feel about ourselves and the world?

‘My kingdom is not of this world.’

It is quite evident from their exchange that Jesus and Pilate are talking on two completely different levels.  Pilate seems to understand this, but just cannot join Jesus where he is.  When Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world,” it is not an excuse for inaction.  No, it is a call to recognize that the way that power usually operates in this world of ours is not the intended purpose of power.  Jesus is stripping away the illusions of this world … one of the biggest illusions of this world is that having power and/or knowing those who are in power will give you a certain measure of security and safety.

The truth is there are different types of power and “Jesus’ vision of power encourages relationship and interdependence rather than one-sided domination … Jesus’ power is grounded in divine values of grace, transformation, and relationship, not destruction and domination. Healing power enhances unity, interdependence, creativity, and freedom, whether this power reflects divine or human initiative.[1]

What is truth? Belonging to The Truth

Where does this leave us as Christians?  Certainly, we are called to participate in God’s kingdom.  We are asked to tell the truth and to be the truth in the world.  Telling the truth is not always easy in our society.  Sometimes it is easier to just let it go than to point out mis-truths, easier to just go with the flow rather than stand up to someone or some policy.  Especially as many churches like ours are rapidly losing members, it is often easy to try to downplay the difficult aspects of a faith journey (like truth telling) in order to appeal to more people.

Even though we all know, practically, telling the truth is always better than lying … sometimes telling the truth is the hardest thing we will ever do – personally, professionally, spiritually, or otherwise.  The good news is that as Christians we are committed to belonging to The Truth – to Jesus Christ.  We do not walk alone, nor do we attempt to tell the truth all by ourselves.  This is why we organize our church so that leadership comes from the membership of the church.  Today we elect officers to be deacons, elders, and trustees.  This is so that they might help the church, as a body of Christ, become a beacon of truth both in the way that we operate together with one another and in the way that we reach out to the world around us.  Let us all commit to listening for truth individually and corporately.  Let us walk together and hold each other accountable so that each of us may genuinely encounter Christ in our lives and be unafraid to call Christ the King of our Hearts.

Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. –John 18:37b

“We pray that we might find the right words – and actions – to express the truth of our lives and the truth of who Jesus Christ is in our lives.  Give us courage to depart the pretend world of euphemism, to call things by their right name, to use things for their right use, to love our neighbor as you love us. Amen.[2]

 


[1] Bruce G. Epperly.  “November 22, 2009: Reign of Christ” at http://www.processandfaith.org/lectionary/YearB/2008-2009/2009-11-22.shtml

[2] Walter Brueggemann.  “Ours is a Seduced World” in Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth.

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