Our November 21 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. We are excited to say that our Sunday 8 & 10:30 am services are open again for in-person worship. Services will continue to be streamed online.
The November 28 Sunday worship service will be held with in-person attendance. We have returned to regular in-person worship services. With an upturn in county COVID cases, we recommend masks even for those who are vaccinated.
We are glad to share our worship with you. Click on “Contact Us” above to find out more about our faith family and what we believe.
CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 | Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8 | John 18:33-37
Where has the time gone? It seems that the year has just flown by, and that in spite of all of the complications. Now, we have come to the close of the Church calendar. It is the end of the Church calendar already. But Christians are always supposed to be looking towards the end, anticipating the end, For, in our faith, the end is the beginning. We are always to be looking towards Christ the King Sunday, the day in which we end the Church year; and celebrate; and look forward to the culmination of Christ’s kingship and reign, now and yet to come. That is what all of the lessons this morning point to, and what we celebrate. All aim to the end of the age, when God’s kingdom will be completely established, and those who have been faithful will be vindicated. It all sounds very apocalyptic, like I said last week, but I prefer to look to the future in anticipation not apocalyptically, as fulfillment not obliteration, towards something new, not the old which has passed away.
We hear in Daniel today, “I saw one like a human being.” That “human being” in Hebrew is literally “Son of Man.” They changed the translation to “human being” in the NRSV. That is a shame, for we lose something that way. Son of Man, it is the title which Jesus most often applies to himself. Originally, in Hebrew, it did just mean a human being, but by the time we get down to Daniel’s book, it comes to mean God’s chosen Messiah. It is in that sense that Jesus used the title. And it is in that sense that his disciples understand it, as do we. The vision of Daniel looks forward to the time when the “Ancient One” (which used to be translated, “Ancient of Days”), that is God, gives to his chosen Messiah (Christ) the dominion of all of creation; glory and kingship over all of the nations. And, as the psalm reads and celebrates, it is a dominion which “will not pass away, nor the kingship be destroyed.” It is a kingdom which is not of this world, but which is eternal.
In the Gospel lesson, which also comes up during Holy Week, we have part of the trial scene of John’s Gospel, “Jesus’ trial before Pilate.” We have the representative of the most powerful kingdom/empire of the time asking questions of the king, if you will, of the most powerful of all, the Kingdom of God, which is coming. Pilate knows that there is something deeper going on. His wife has warned him about a dream that she had had about Jesus. Don’t underestimate dreams. And Pilate was curious, or unsure, about what was going on. Pilate had already questioned Jesus. He comes back and asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Remember, Jesus is a descendant of David, a prince of Israel. Most people, and good Christians often forget that part. He is occasionally addressed as “Son of David,” remember. Pilate is probably wondering why the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. This was not something that they normally did. “What have you done?” He knows that there is something else going on here. Something is up, but what it is, he doesn’t understand. But Pilate is only an earthly sort of ruler, a roman governor. Importantly, Jesus is later condemned on these questions, by Roman law, for insurrection, being a false king. “The King of the Jews” is what Pilate will put on the sign above Jesus on the cross, “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”
“My kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus answers, but doesn’t answer. He says that he is a king, but points to the coming kingdom, the Kingdom of God, which is here among us partially, here but not yet fulfilled. It is that fulfillment which all Christians hope for and look forward to. Pilate, probably, wasn’t satisfied with that answer. “Another world?,” probably, Pilate thought with this, that Jesus must be some kind of loony. Pilate was, after all, a very practical man, being a roman leader and all. But by that answer, Jesus did admit to being a king, which to the Romans was treason.
But, Jesus hadn’t finished the answer. He speaks of his purpose, “for this I came into the world.” To be crucified, to testify to the truth, and there is an indication of his kingdom. God’s kingdom is tied to the truth. A kingdom which is here, wherever Truth lives. It also shows us that contrary to what Pilate might believe; Jesus is actually in control of the trial. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is in control throughout. It is one of the things that makes John’s account different from the other three Gospels. “This is what I came for! This is why I was born! I am here to be crucified. You can’t stop it. That is what will complete my mission here on earth, the task which My Father has sent me to accomplish. Remember Jesus’ last three words from the cross in John? “It is finished.” He has completed his mission. That is the Truth. The Church, Christ’s followers, we testify to that truth. The Truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God: who came to die for our sins; was resurrected to glory; and even now, reigns over us; whose coming kingdom we wait for and anticipate. Ironically, in the next verse, which we don’t have in the lessons today, Pilate asks, “What is truth?” He is standing right in front of THE TRUTH, and missed it completely. The truth which is the love of God made manifest in His Son Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all people. Pilate misses it completely, but earthly rulers usually do.
In the Revelation lesson, “To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests (the idea of the priesthood of all believers), serving his God and Father.” It is a creedal statement of Jesus’ work. What Christ has done for us. The text points to the Return of Christ in glory, his 2nd Coming. What some groups call the Rapture, because they don’t know that the Greek word for it is the Paraousia. Christ’s return, which the whole Church looks forward to, the time of the final end of sin, death and all evil. When the faithful will be vindicated. When all shall be completed. When Christ shall rule all in righteousness, all of his enemies having been put under his feet. The king “who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” It is the same King Jesus Christ who claims us, and he whom we serve. It is he who we meet now at his table, in his Holy Supper, a likeness of the Heavenly Banquet at the end of the age, “a foretaste of the feast to come.” Christ our King is here.