Sermon for CHRIST THE KING 2012
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
“In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him.
Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” Hebrews 2:8
I wonder if you can tell me who this is?? Here is his house? And here is his car? His favourite dog has three legs 🙂
This man is Jose Mujica – the President of Uruguay . . . you wouldn’t have known it to look at him would you 🙂
What does a President look like?
Today is a very important day in the Church’s year – not only do we welcome our friends from Tolcarne 🙂 – it is actually the last day of the year. When people accuse the church of being behind the times, we must always remind them – our New Year is five weeks before yours – so Next Sunday we will celebrate Advent Sunday, the first of the New Year.
But today is a Sunday for drawing everything together – in a sense summing up our year and we sum up our Christian faith with the feast of Christ the King.
But in our gospel reading today it is clear the Pontius Pilate, the local representative of the Roman ruling powers, a man who has the power of life and death over everyone in Palestine, it is clear that this incredibly powerful man cannot tell that Jesus is a King. ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He can’t tell by looking. This strange and bedraggled man, dragged before him by angry religious authorities, known for having a band of followers from that disreputable area of Galilee, A King?? ‘So, you are a King??’ Jesus answered ‘you say that I am’ . . . enigmatic, not giving anything away . . . at least Jose Mujica will tell you out straight he Is the President of Uruguay however odd he looks. Jesus won’t give Pilate an answer, it is as if we have to discover for ourselves that he is the King
So today we celebrate what might seem to many a very Odd festival – Christ the King??? [Slide with words] A King who doesn’t let on that he is The King – In fact so Odd is it that most people and many Christians either don’t know of it or pass over it without much thought – in other words its hidden, and that might be a Good thing 🙂
Think of All Hallows [Slide of Halloween] Christmas [Santa slide] or Easter [chocolate] and we find that major Christian festivals get hijacked – but the world doesn’t seem very interested in Christ the King, How can you distort this festival and make moeny out of it? Yet Christians are so bold as to make an extraordinary claim – that this first century, Palestinian Jew, a carpenter of humble origins, who never led an army, who never was crowned, who often had nowhere to sleep, who was followed around by prostitutes and those traitors of the Jewish people, the tax collectors and fishermen, Who was despised, rejected and finally put to death on a Roman Cross, executed as a common criminal – they claim that this Jesus, is King, [Pantokrator slide] – not just of the Jews but of the whole of Creation – indeed We are so bold and foolish to state that He is the Creator of everything that is and that in Him all things hold together, that it is his Life which sustains all life. Without Him there is nothing – he is the Centre and sustainer of all existence
When people get all tied up in knots over the truth of Christianity nowadays, they always seem to miss the central point, even Christians – that this is the Ruler of the Universe – and that it is Most clear here [Slide of the Cross]
The early Christians made this extraordinary claim, that this Jesus whom had been crucified was Lord – he was the world’s true King
And like if you met him you might laugh at JOse Mujica for telling you he was the President of Uruguay everyone laughed at those first Christians 🙂 Those Jews who hadn’t followed Jesus couldn’t accept it because as far as they were concerned Everyone who was put to death on a cross was Obviously under cursed by God – how else could you explain this outcome? And for the Greek people who were in many ways the dominant culture of the age (in a sense like we might think of the united States today) the idea that the Ruler of the Universe might be revealed in such weakness, broken and bloodied on a cross – well it was just laughable – even more laughable than the idea that this man could be President of Uruguay – This is a President [Obama] – but him? [Mujica] This is where presidents live [White house] but here [Mujica’s farm]?? But, people will say, ‘This is the ruler of the Universe? The World’s true and only King?? . . .’ come on!! Yet this is actually what we argue for when we argue for the truth of Christian faith
This is the absolute core truth of Christian faith – without this everything else falls apart – The first Christians never got tangled up in pointless arguments about Evolution or Political systems, about wars and religion – no – they had One Ludicrous claim, that Here we see perfectly revealed the world’s true King [Cross] – the core truth of Christianity and indeed we would argue, the entire Created order
‘You say that I am a King’ Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, ‘for this I was born and for this I came into the world to Testify to the truth – everyone who belongs to the the truth hear my voice . . .’
Once upon a time he had spoken of hearing his voice . . . My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
‘What is Truth?’ Pilate asked him’ And the Truth was standing right in front of Him – the heart of Christian faith is not an idea – it is a person – the person of Jesus Christ, whom Christians acknowledge as the True King of the world
Jose Mujica may well have changed our opinions of what a President looks like, but my guess is that he won’t be setting a new trend 🙂 I don’t expect Barack Obama, or even John Key to follow his example any time soon! But if the Christian claim that Jesus is the King, the Centre of Everything, that in his very being he is The Truth of all existence, then that changes everything.
What difference would it make if a person, if this person not an idea or a philosophy was in truth The Truth of all or existence?
Well we have seen it down through the ages – it always happens the same way – When Jesus first appeared he said – Repent, believe the Good News – and some laid down their own lives and agendas, some left families to follow him, to be with him, to learn from him and learn to obey him – in so doing they discovered that he was The Way, The Truth and The Life – the absolute centre of existence. Because The Truth is Jesus you cannot learn the Truth without knowing Him, without following him, without putting your life in his hands – which of course it already is 🙂
What might our lives look like if we were to Understand this Truth, the Christ Is the King, that he is The Truth? What might St Hilda’s look like if Everything that happened there was directed towards Jesus? What indeed might our church look like??
As folk know I am working on the idea of a shared Rule of Life for us as a church and the heart of the Rule is Christ Jesus, the heart of everything. Just last week I was privileged to visit somewhere with a shared rule, I visited Ngatiawa where Bishop Justin comes from, just inland from Waikanae on the West coast of North Island. And there to see a sort of church, a community where there was a daily rhythm of prayer, where lives were shared around a very noisy 🙂 common table – where folk held one another accountable in mutual love and trust. Some of the folk I met there were only in their early twenties – but it is a long long while since I have met such well formed young Christian people. On the surface they had little in common – people form relationships with people who are like us – we form deep relationships especially with those who are like us and sadly most churches are the same in that regard – but they were a very mixed bag – young and old, some who had been very well off, others who’d spent time on the streets – just like those first disciples – but a deeper community than I have met anywhere for a very long time – and at the heart – this worship and prayer – time with the King in their simple but beautiful chapel (named after Tarore whom we heard all about in chapel last week :))
A shared life, around a common table – food shared with one another in the presence of the King – that of course is the heart of what we do here Sunday by Sunday. This King, The King, Christ the King is only Visible in glory to the seers of Revelation and Daniel – the ANcient of Days coming on the clouds, the Alpha and the Omega who is and who was and who is to come – “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.” But when those who are drawn to him come together he becomes more and more visible – where two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them – by this shall all know you are my disciples by your love for one another – as we are drawn closer to the Truth – Christ Jesus, our Strange and glorious King – revealed amongst us