Lutheranlady's Weblog


Nov 25 Sermon
January 16, 2008, 3:03 am
Filed under: Sermons

Luke 23:33-43

Christ the King Sunday

Happy Christ the King Sunday!Did you know it is Christ the King Sunday? Well, if you didn’t before you arrived at church, at least you did when you picked up your bulletin! If nothing else, simply because it is a break from the “however many-ith Sunday after Pentecost” listing.  So here we are, bellies still full of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. And now thrown into the Christmas rush! Perhaps some of you are a little bleary-eyed from 4am shopping Friday morning? I’m perfectly rested. I didn’t leave my inlaws’ house until 6am. Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is in full swing. Tis the season for glitz and glamour, lights and tinsel. We celebrate Jesus’ birth with parties, gifts, and brightly decorated homes. Plaques and pins remind us that “Jesus is the reason for the season”. Last year in Dubuque, as I bustled around our little apartment, baking cookies and wrapping presents, I was also watching one of the various Christmas specials the Family Channel had on. One commercial caught my attention. At first, simply because I couldn’t tell what I was being sold. It opened with a typical Christmas scene, bright, white snow, softly jingling bells. Then we see Santa Claus, the jolly old man himself. But instead of bidding his reindeer “on Dasher, on Dancer…” he humbly walks up to a church’s nativity display and kneels in prayer. It’s a church commercial- intended to say something about our priorities around Christmastime. And to get people to come to their church.  Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, we are officially on the superspeed train towards Christmas. As I followed my sister-in-law into Walmart for her guitar-hero must-have-Christmas present, I could not help but notice the Christmas transformation. There were brightly-colored bells, green trees, super helpful sales associates, and up above the cash registers- even the line number signs were gift-wrapped.  And all this to celebrate the birth of a little baby?! <pause>  Our whole country is eager for the Christmas season. I think the Christmas decorations up Hwy 251 were already lit around Halloween! So why doesn’t our church jump into the festivities with a bulletin that declares: Christmas is coming!?   Why “Christ the King” Sunday?  Lights and ribbon are brought out this weekend. Isn’t that an appropriate way to welcome a king? Many of us just enjoyed feasts. That’s a royal tradition.  And I think we could keep going on about the appropriateness of celebrating the nobility of Jesus in conjunction with our seasonal customs.  We could keep going on… until we open our Bibles to the reading from Luke today. Now, we might think- surely there must be some misprinting of the text, this must be a reading from Lent or the Holy Days. We’re supposed to be thinking of Christ the King, pomp and circumstance, royal diadems, precious gifts. I’ve read my Bible, I know there are verses we could pull out to talk about God establishing great rulers, or Jesus being a king in David’s royal line, or maybe even something about the voice of God present at Jesus’ baptism. Wouldn’t those be better stories to celebrate Jesus being king?  But that’s not what we heard today. We got a story from the cross. Jesus is crucified in the midst of a jeering crowd. It is a crowd who has heard something of Jesus’ ministry, for in their own mocking they confess that Jesus has saved others, that he is called the messiah, the chosen one of God, and that he is the king the oppressed and occupied Jews have been long awaiting.  They mock him, torture him, indeed even crucify him, because he is a king unlike any they have ever known. This is a king who has eaten with the poor, the outcast, the foreigner, even the criminal. This is a king who has been moved to tears because of the death of a friend. This is a king who has healed the blind and lame, instead of walking blindly by.  What kind of king is this? I don’t think many of us here have had much experience with royalty. I haven’t had much outside the media reports of the latest doings in the British royal family. Maybe I have a little more sense of the doings of the rich and powerful in our world. I’ve seen coverage of Bill Gates, Bono and Oprah out among the poor around the world as they try to raise awareness of poverty and disease. I hope they’ve been able to do some good work, but they sure haven’t been getting the same response Jesus is getting here in Luke.  Jesus is experiencing the most humiliating death possible. He is naked and staked into a pole. He is being killed among criminals, as if he were one himself. The very shirt on his back is claimed by another while he is still alive. And even his people and his God are dragged into the sphere of humiliation, as the occupying forces display their power over the one some thought would be the savior sent by God to rebuild the Hebrew nation.  In one of my favorite book, JRR Tolkien writes of one character, “all that is gold does not glitter”. As we are surrounded by much that glitters this holiday season, I invite you to think of this phrase and Jesus. Jesus Christ comes to us as a powerless infant, born amidst the filth of a stable, conceived by an unwed mother. Jesus the Messiah is most fully known as king when he is raised in humiliation on the cross.  Today, we know Jesus’ presence in the very simple elements of bread and wine. These are basic foods that even the poor would have eaten in Jesus’ time. You will be told, The Body of Christ, given for you; the Blood of Christ, shed for you. This is how the king is known- in his giving up of himself- for you.  

 

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