This is the message that I used in on Sunday morning on Nov. 20, 2016. The scriptures were: Jeremiah 23:1-6, Colossians 1:11-20 and Luke 23:33-43. The title was “Christ is King”
As the end of the message, I shared a video that I found on u-tube. I am not a technology guru, so I am not imbedding it here. If you are interested in seeing it, search for the names that are listed in the note at the end. You will find it. Enjoy. Now for the message.
Wow! Here we are at the end of another year of the church. Next week is Advent and the beginning of a new church calendar. Until the snow that hit on Thursday, I was beginning to wonder if we were really going to have winter and all that goes with it this year. I was so busy enjoying the wonderful weather that I almost didn’t get the carrots and the beets out of the garden. I did finally dig them on Tuesday and on Wednesday night we finally finished the last of the apples.
Now I am not sure if it was the great weather up to Wednesday or the snow that hit on Thursday, but it messed me up so much that on Friday as I was working on the messages for today and tonight and trying to finalize tonight’s bulletin, I kept thinking, I will write one message on Friday and the other on Saturday, and I went downstairs and worked on laundry and then finished up some knitting and later I organized some Christmas gifts to wrap, and it wasn’t until later that night after supper that I realized Friday was over was not happening the next day…..and you can probably imagine my scramble yesterday.
Today, according to the lectionary theme, is the day that we read the verses and hear the stories and celebrate the fact that Christ is King. I don’t suppose any of us would argue with that fact. Jesus is indeed the Son of God who rules the world and all that is in it. As much as any of the different world leaders think they are in charge of this country or that country or some other region, as much as financial leaders believe they have an influence on a country’s or the world’s economy, as much as CEO’s think that they control different aspects of business, the bottom line is that Jesus reigns all things. Jesus—the Son of God was in existence before the beginning of time, is in charge now and will always be in charge. As much as anyone wants to say this is not so, it is so. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
And for all points and purposes, the sooner we accept that fact, the better life is for us. I don’t mean to suggest that everything will go perfectly smoothly for us just because we believe, but having a relationship with Christ gives us a strength and a peace that we don’t find without that sort of relationship.
The scripture lesson today that reinforces or underlines the theme of Christ the King Sunday comes from the Epistle reading, from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul writes to them letting them know how much he has heard about their faith and how thankful he is for the fact that they have such strong faith, and he writes to reinforce their beliefs. As he writes, he also tells them more about who Christ really is. Let’s hear it again from verse 15. (reread it)
Reading this just as it is with no background, we might wonder why some think it is such a big deal to have to present this as Christ is King. Maybe for us living as we do in a place where we really do have so many freedoms, perhaps even more so than even in other parts of our country, talking about kings and rulers is not really all that scary. For those who have lived in fear or under tyrants, this might not be so easy to understand.
The fact is that the Colossian people lived in a time and place that put lots of value on spirits. They believed that spirits both good and evil were all around them. They existed in a time that held more than just superstitions about having to appease the “Gods” or bad things would happen to them. Paul was writing to them in order to help them understand that Jesus Christ was the one and only Son of the one true God and that there was no need to think about or deal with other spirits.
Reading and studying these passages this week reminded me of when I was a junior in college. I took a class called History of Eastern Religions, also known by some as mess up your beliefs class. One day the professor brought in a speaker from the community. It was a young woman who was part of a new “church.” I think she said there were a handful of them that had formed a congregation of all beliefs. I am not sure what the name was, but I remember her saying that they believed that all the prophets of all the religions were real, and they all had good ideas, and their plan was to sort of meld all these ideas. Now in theory that is wonderful that they were able to recognize the good of these prophets and to respect them for their beliefs, but there is one thing I just couldn’t buy into. Jesus was not a prophet. Jesus was is and always will be the only begotten Son of God. Jesus is not a prophet. Jesus came to earth and though he was a teacher and a healer and a spiritual leader, his purpose was to die and to rise from the dead so that we could all have the opportunity for eternal life with him, with God.
Perhaps this is the reason that I have been unable or unwilling to focus much on speaking about the here and now. I get a little nervous that when we only focus on today and what this message means for me today, maybe we are denying a belief in life after this one. Sometimes when I read some of the “experts” and their message, I wonder if they believe there is something—life beyond today.
Without getting too deep into this subject let me just say that I am suspicious of people who say they don’t believe in organized religion. Of course I am suspicious of people who say they don’t believe in organized government either. But when you think about it, government only affects your life here and now. Not believing in religion, in something spiritual—that affects you way beyond your life here on this earth.
And ok let’s be honest, it might be hard for any of us to say we have lived our entire life without any doubts. I think the more that I read, the more that I study, the more I wonder about the mystery that is God, the truth about Jesus’ death and resurrection and all the different stories that are part of the scriptures.
And as wonderful as the words are in Paul’s letter today, the truth for me is always in the lessons from the gospels. As we look at what we read in Luke about Jesus’ last day on earth as a human when he was hanging on the cross in agony and misery listening to those two thieves arguing, that verse where he tells the one criminal, “Truly I tell you today you will be with me in paradise,” that verse tells me all I need to know about the truth of who Christ really is and what following him is all about.
In light of that, I want to share a little video with you. Of all things I can’t even really make the connection now of how this popped into my head, but when I was doing my reading earlier this week, I kept thinking of this song. I think the connection is that Christ is King for all of us, Christ died for all of us, and if you hear the words he said to the criminal, a sinner a low life a nobody and you realize that Jesus in his worst hour could reach out to such a one as that, he certainly is there for all of us, and because of that fact, we also need to be there for others in their time of need.
(Show video from u-tube: Makem and Clancey All God’s creatures got a place in the choir.)