Friday, November 19, 2010

What do you do with a Sunday called "Christ the King?"

I ask you.

I'm supposed to preach on the last Sunday of the church year, called "Christ the King Sunday" in our lectionary.

I'm supposed to keep it short, too.  Because our annual meeting is on Sunday, and so is an Important Football Game.  So we hope to have a short annual meeting, with information, a little voting, a good feeling, and an adjournment.  (Also, prayer.  We will begin and end with prayer.)

So, what do you do with a Sunday called "Christ the King?"

I'd like to give a practical message, that applies to our daily lives, but the word "King" does not, in general, apply to our daily lives.  We don't have kings.  In fact, we fought a war a couple hundred years ago or so, just so we would not have kings.

Oh, we keep an eye on the celebrity Royalty of Great Britian, and I'll bet everyone knows that Prince William is engaged -- and to a commoner!

The the words "Practical" and "King" very rarely go together in the same sentence.  For the most part, our knowledge of kings comes from fairy tales, where there are kings and queens, and elves and fairies, and magic wands. 

Of course, there was a time when everyone had kings.  All the best countries had kings, which was why Israel wanted one too.  They wanted a king, just like all the other nations!  They wanted a king, because having a king meant that you were important, and kings provided security for the people.  Kings fought battles (although they were usually the ones giving the orders, not the ones fighting and dying).  Kings made decisions.  Kings made you Important.  Kings were powerful.

At the time, it was a matter of practical necessity to have a king.  Or so people thought.  Now, not so much.

And then you have Jesus.  We say he is a king.  We believe that he reigns.  But if you really paid attention, you will see that he is not the most practical kind of king to have.  He doesn't wear a robe, or a crown, or have a scepter, except when people are making fun of him.  He says impractical things like, "Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you."  He does provide a certain kind of security, but not the kind we usually think of, or prize.  He provides the security of knowing that our lives are in God's hands, but not the security of knowing that we will win every battle.  And of course, if it's a feeling of Being Important you want, you might want to check out Jesus, washing his disciples' feet.  Just like a servant. 

And there he is, on a cross, of all places.  This is not the place you would expect to find a King, even if we thought we needed one. 

and yet, some of us find ourselves singing, or humming to ourselves, "Jesus, Remember me, when you come into your kingdom."    Some of us find ourselves longing to hear the words he said to those who crucified him, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  We have the sneaking suspicion that we are the ones who don't know what we are doing, that in all of our practical attempts to manage our own lives (and the world) we have botched it up royally. 

Jesus, remember us. 
Jesus, forgive us.

And the prayer, "Jesus, remember me" isn't just a prayer for security when we die.  It's really a prayer that somehow, in the middle of our botched-up lives, we will see God's kingdom,  We will see that impractical, necessary kingdom where the Kings kneel and serve, where the poor are lifted up, the dying are raised -- and where forgiveness is the best, the most precious treasure there is.

On Christ the King Sunday, I pray that even in our annual meeting, we'll serve the impractical King.


Fran said...

Oh Diane, I love how you turn all this on its head, our impractical King and all.

Diane M. Roth said...

Thanks, Fran!

Di said...

Among other things, it's a chance to belt out, Crown Him With Many Crowns. Gotta love that.