Sermon on Christ the King

Sermon Outline

  1. Feast of Christ the King
    1. End of our liturgical year
    2. Luke’s point is fairly obvious
      1. Christ is King
      2. Different kind of king
        1. Reigns from the cross
      3. But what does this mean?
      4. What does it have to do with us?
    3. What it does NOT mean
      1. Everything that happens is Christ’s will
        1. “God’s plan”, “Everything happens for a reason”
        2. Disease, accident, natural disaster?
  • Christ’s crucifixion itself?
  1. Christ endorses the agenda of the powers-that-be
  1. What it means
    1. Everything that exists/happens is material that Christ can work with (including the crucifixion)
      1. God’s vision – “the kingdom of heaven”
        1. Less to do with what happens
        2. More to do with who we are
      2. Christ is establishing a new order, over and against the powers-that-be
    2. Was the cross God’s plan for Jesus?
        1. To say Yes is to accept the unacceptable (“cosmic child abuse”)
      1. Crucifixion was the powers’ plan for Jesus
        1. Prophets expose the sins of the powerful
          1. Injustice, hypocrisy, idolatry
        2. Jesus does this consistently
          1. Shallowness of religious elite
          2. Futility of a political system based on violence
        3. Threatens the power-base with truth
          1. God didn’t need Jesus to die, the powers did
        4. Jesus accepted crucifixion as the consequence of his ministry
          1. Continued to minister anyway
          2. Borg: “The cross is the world’s No to Jesus”
        5. Ironic injustice
          1. He is made to suffer and die because for doing the right thing
          2. They call him “king” ironically, to mock him
            1. But he really is
          3. Jesus “bears their sins” by absorbing their violent hatred without retaliation
            1. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
          4. They taunt Jesus to come down from the cross
            1. Leaders, soldiers, criminal
            2. They can only conceive of a Messiah that is like them: violent and powerful
              1. Leaders: “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”
              2. Soldiers: “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
  • Criminal: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
  1. The real irony: these opposing powers are really saying the same thing
  1. But one person gets the irony: the other criminal
    1. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.”
    2. Nearing death, giving up hope for survival, he sees clearly the futility of this world’s violent system
    3. Unironically addresses Jesus as king:
      1. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
    4. The hopeless loser gets it
  2. In the world today, the “hopeless losers” still get it
    1. They see clearly the futility of the violent world system
    2. But the powerful are blinded by their interests in the system
      1. We don’t want to see the truth because we still hold out hope that the system will work in our favor
      2. Poor and oppressed people see the futility more clearly
        1. Black Lives Matter, I Believe Women
        2. Powerful interests try to silence these movements
  • Jesus stands in solidarity with them
    1. If we want to stand with Jesus as our King, we must stand with them
      1. Black lives, women’s lives, queer lives, trans lives, Muslim lives, refugee lives, Mexican lives, immigrant lives, disabled lives, mentally ill lives matter… and these lives are being ended by crucifixion today
      2. Church: “Preferential option for the poor”
    2. Like Jesus, we must be prepared to be crucified with them as a consequence of our solidarity
      1. We must be ready to listen to their experiences and suffer with them, especially where we have been complicit in their suffering
        1. This is repentance
      2. Jesus, the most powerful King, stands in solidarity with those who are the least powerful
        1. And he does it without returning violence for violence
        2. This is what it looks like for Jesus to reign as King from the cross
        3. His Church must do the same
      3. Our basis for hope is that crucifixion is not the end of the story
        1. King Jesus ascends the throne on Mount Calvary, but reigns from the empty tomb
        2. In his resurrection, Jesus has conquered death and hell
          1. St. Paul (Ephesians 1:17-23): “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
        3. Filled with the hope born of this faith (this pledge of allegiance), the Church stands at the forefront of countless movements for peace, justice, and mercy
          1. We do not grow tired, even when the entire world is against us and others give up, because our hope is born of something greater than this world
            1. St. John (1 John 4:4): “Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
          2. We have even learned to take pride in the cross, the instrument of Christ’s mocking and torture:
            1. St. Paul (1 Cor 1:18-25): “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
          3. Our response
            1. “Therefore,” (Hebrews 12:1-2), “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”
            2. St. Paul again (Romans 12:1-2): “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  • Finally (Philippians 2:5-11): “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
  1. This is not liberal idealism; it is Christian hope

    1. Grounded in the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead
    2. We come to church, week after week, to fed by Word and Sacrament, then sent back out into the world to keep doing this work of standing, with Christ our King, in solidarity with the crucified peoples of the earth.
    3. We need to be reminded of these truths because the world will try to choke that faith out of us
      1. St. John (1 John 4:4): “Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
    4. The cross was this world’s No to Jesus, but the empty tomb is God’s Yes.

      1. And God’s Yes trumps the world’s No every time.

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