Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If I Was the King...

And just like that, our last Sunday of Ordinary Time is here--a Sunday known in the Christian world as either Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday...a Sunday that bridges us from these many weeks of following Jesus' long journey to Jerusalem to the new "looking forward" that will take place the following week as we begin the Advent season. It's a whirlwind of time, just as we talked about last week, and the readings are powerful: Jeremiah 23:1-6, Luke 1:68-79 (in place of Psalm), Colossians 1:13-20, and Luke 23:33-43. Read them all consecutively and the impact is pretty can do so, as always, here.

One of the many things I love about worship at Broadneck is that I get to do a Children's Sermon every Sunday. I love this for lots of reasons, but I love it because, in thinking about how to make these texts accessible to our kids, I find entry points and insights into the texts that I might not have found otherwise. As I've been thinking about our children's sermon for Christ the King Sunday, I've been considering posing to the kids this [admittedly dangerous, but which ones posed to kids aren't?] question: "If you could be king/queen for a day, what would you do?"

I can only imagine how our kids will answer this question...knowing them, I can guess three things: their answers will be honest, they will be creative, and they will be likely not what we expect.

In our Old Testament lesson for this week, God announces, "The days are coming..." and then begins to outline what it will look like on the day when God raises up a ruler to reign over God's people the way God would reign over them. God's people have known some REALLY BAD rulers (imagine that...human rulers who fall short?), some of whom claimed to have been sent by I could see how Jeremiah's prophecy could elicit some skepticism. But as God begins to describe this "righteous Branch," the ruler sounds like no one they have experienced before: one who deals wisely, who acts justly and does what is right, one who actually brings about safety for the people and brings them together. In describing what will happen in the day God's ruler takes the throne, the answer God gives, like the one I anticipate from our kids, is honest, speaking the heart of God's hopes and dreams.

In our Epistle lesson, we hear what things look like on the day when God has "transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13). Consider this description of Christ's reign offered by Eugene Peterson in The Message:
"We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies."
What does it look like when Christ, as the image of God, is Ruler over all things? All things find their beginning...all things find their place...all things are brought together in wholeness. Certainly sounds creative to me...quite literally.

Finally, in Luke we get a picture of that day--literally--when Christ was revealed as king. He was revealed not in a coronation, but in a humiliation--mocked by the leaders of his day, silently undefended by the crowds and his friends, his lordship genuinely realized only by a powerless criminal who hung on a cross beside him. In his day of being "raised up" as king, Christ forgave his mockers and abusers and welcomed a criminal into God's paradise. Christ the King chose not to save himself, but to give himself up freely. What kind of king is this? I can tell you one's certainly not what we would have expected.

Honesty...creativity...unexpectedness...all of these things grip us and shred our perceptions on this day as we see what it might really look like to call Christ the King and to accept the Reign of Christ in our world and, even more frighteningly, in our lives. Join us on Sunday as, appropriately enough, our kids will lead us to consider...what would we do if we had the chance to be king? And what did Christ do when Christ actually did?

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