Christ is Our King: Year in Review

Christ the King Sunday is a time to reflect on Jesus as our King, the ultimate power and authority in our lives while reflecting on our Church year.

All the scriptures, liturgy (words), and hymns are from our worship this past year.

This year focused on the Gospel of Mark, which has an over-arching theme that the Kingdom of God is here, it is near, and it is not yet fulfilled.

Although purple was the traditional color, blue has become common. The blue further sets Advent a part from its preparatory counter-part: Lent. Blue is associated with hope, waiting, and expectation (anticipation).

Advent, by definition, is the arrival of an important person or thing.

Advent, for Christians, is a double-edged sword.

The world is preparing for the Christmas celebration of the Christ-child born in a manger, BUT Advent/Christmas is when the Church and our world are most at odds.

The Church begins Advent with Jesus’ Second Advent (Coming) at the end times.

Then the Church hears John the Baptizer in the wilderness telling us to “Prepare the Way”.

FINALLY, the fourth (final) Advent service we hear the story of a young, Palestinian mother-to-be expecting her first-born, who will be King from the very moment of his birth.

This coming Advent, while we prepare our homes for Christmas, may we also prepare our hearts to not only receive the baby in the manger but also Jesus at his Second Advent/Coming.

The Christ-child, the baby in the manger, who is our Lord, Savior, and King has arrived!

Christmas Eve is celebrated as the most holy of nights, which we always hear the account of the shepherds who hear that Jesus, the Holy One, God in human flesh and bone has been born.

We rejoice and celebrate on Christmas, but the next morning our Church and world are at odds again because we are ready to tear down the lights and decorations that have been cluttering our homes and we are ready for the house guests to leave in order that we can simply be (in order that our sanity may return).

And yet, Christmas is a short 12-day season beginning Christmas morning with Jesus’ birth.

This Christmas, I encourage you to embrace Advent and Christmas as separate seasons.

Epiphany (and the Time After):
Our Catholic brothers and sisters celebrate Epiphany significantly better than us Lutherans.

Epiphany is January 6.
Epiphany is a moment of revelation. It is the light bulb moment. It is the ‘Ah ha’ moment.

Epiphany is the celebration of the wisemen (magi/kings), who were powerful, mighty, and wealthy but followed the light of a star to find a baby in a manger acknowledging that this baby was more powerful than them. This baby was the King of all kings, who would begin a new era on earth.

The Sundays after the Epiphany are opportunities for us to learn and grow because of those revelations and ‘ah ha’ moments of faith.

The first Sunday after Epiphany is always the Baptism of Our Lord, when we hear of Jesus’ revelation with the heavens opening, the Holy Spirit descending upon him, and hearing those words “You are my Son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased”.

When we were baptized, those same words should have (and continue) to echo in our own ears.

We begin Lent immediately after Jesus’ baptism, when he is drove out into the wilderness to be tempted and tested.

Lent is a journey. It is also my favorite church season, because this is when we witness Christ at his most human, his most vulnerable. This teaches us that Jesus as experienced the celebrations and the pain of our human lives including temptations and the death of friends. He is even arrested, beaten, and crucified.

Lent is my favorite despite, not because of, these vivid images. It reminds me that the baby in the manger is God in human flesh and bone, but no matter how bad it becomes for his subjects and peasants this is a king who knows where we have been, where we are heading, and is a king who is not willing to abandon us. And that is why this is the King we follow.

The Three Days:
I do not have on the white robe or a colored stole for the shortest “season”, which is called The Three Days, because it is a time of mourning.

The Three Days begin with Maundy Thursday (Last Supper/Feet Washing), includes Jesus’ arrest, trial, passion, crucifixion, and concludes with his body laid in a tomb.
The Three Days is a time of not knowing what will happen, of wondering where the story will lead us… but we, unlike the disciples, have the hindsight of the Resurrection.

We go from a time of mourning to perhaps the greatest celebration in the Church:
Easter or Resurrection Sunday.

We laid our Messiah (anointed one), our King who would save us in a tomb.
But, he has done the impossible… conquered death itself.

No earthly king can conquer death. No earthly person can conquer death.

This conquering of death was a demonstration of who Christ truly was (and is): God.

We celebrate not only the Resurrection, but his defeat of the only permanent thing… death.

This creates for Christians an understanding that death does not always equal death.
Death can equal new birth.
Death can equal new life.
This is only possible for our loving God.

Pentecost (and the Time After):
Pentecost is a Jewish festival marking the 50th day since the Passover.

According to Acts, God choose Pentecost as a festival for the followers of Christ celebrating the Holy Spirit poured out among the people. God, through the Holy Spirit, is loose and free in the world… this can be scary or liberating.

The Holy Spirit is poured out on ALL people: men and women, poor slaves and the wealthiest,
ALL nations, ALL people… and since it reads all flesh… even ALL animals!

We get 20+ weeks to seek an answer for the question that onlookers were asking:
“What does this mean?”.

The Holy Spirit is unpredictable. Although we do not know what is next, I find it quite exciting.

We spend the majority of these weeks in green, as a color of growth, but it is also for the healing of the nations. I invite you to look more closely at my stole after the service, it has green leaves to symbolize the healing of the nations.

It is a time for bringing people together into a kingdom that has come, is near, and not yet fulfilled. This is a kingdom not ruled by the power and authority that we bear witness to but rather the power and authority of the ultimate King, the King of kings, the one born to a young girl in a manger, the one who suffered death for his subjects, the one who defeats death and was resurrected, and the one whose Holy Spirit as been poured out onto all flesh enabling us to live (and live more fully) into that kingdom.

This is the purpose of Christ the King Sunday AND our liturgical (Church) calendar.

Originally Preached on 25 Nov. 2018 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).

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