Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

The feast of Christ -- the king…

What do kings do?

They rule their subjects.
They make law.
They hand down decisions.
They command an army.

That’s any king.

A truly good king loves his subjects,
even when they do not love him.
A good king calls his people to order,
especially when chaos threatens to disturb the peace.
A good king insures justice for his people
especially when some of his subjects take advantage of others.
A good king defends his people from harm,
especially those too weak to defend themselves.

But if we are to honor Jesus as King this day,
(a title he himself rejected),
we need to expand our notion of kingship.

If we look to Jesus as the model
we find that a king calls his subjects to defer
not only to him but also to one another -
as if each were the servant of the other.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to count wealth as a burden, not a boon,
unless that wealth is shared, freely, with those who have none.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to surrender their power and authority in service of others
just as he did for them, on the Cross,
laying down his life not just for his friends,
not just for the good, but for sinners.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to keep their eyes on a kingdom other
than the realm that is theirs at the moment,
to keep their eyes on a reign of peace that is yet to come -
and to live, even now, the peace of what is yet to be.

Once, when the crowds tried to make Jesus a king,
he went into hiding.
At another time, hours before he was crucified,
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you a king?” and Jesus answered,

For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
We honor the rule of Jesus over our lives
when we listen to his voice
and attend to the truth of his word above any other.

We honor the rule of Jesus in our lives when, like him,
we surrender even our rightful power and authority
in service of those who are poor and treated unjustly.

We honor the rule of Jesus in our lives
when we count his love as our greatest wealth,
our most precious possession.

Many rulers compete to reign
over my mind, my heart and my life.

Sometimes my selfishness, my poor choices, my bad habits
rule my days and nights and rob me of true peace.

But even good things
(my work, my family, my dreams for my children)
can come between me and the One
who has the greatest claim on my loyalty and service.

Jesus turned down a crown the people offered him,
a crown of power,
but he willingly took upon himself another crown,
a thorny sign of his surrender, in love, for the sake of others.

And that is the truth to which he came to testify,
the truth he calls us to live.

We are citizens of a nation founded on the rejection of kingship.
But Jesus offers us another kind of rule.

If Jesus does not rule my heart, who does? what does?

If the surrender of Jesus in love, in service of others,
is not my model of success and achievement, what is?

If the Word of Jesus is not the truth by which I live,
by whose truth do I make my way in life?

It is not by accident that we worship, week after week,
in the shadow of the Cross,
and that we call the Supper we share
the sacrifice of the Eucharist.

Pray with me
that the Word, the truth, the surrender, the love of Jesus
rule our hearts and lives
and draw us to the reign of his peace
promised in the banquet we are about to share.
A Concord Pastor