The Text for this sermon can be found at [ https://soundcloud.com/tigerowl/christ-the-king-13 ]
Have you ever wondered,
How is it that we find ourselves reading scriptures and telling stories and remembering with great admiration someone who was seen as a criminal and put to death? I find it a bit intriguing that we end the cycle of the church year remember the crucifixion and the final hours of the Man we call Christ, Christ the King. Most of us have heard the story or at least parts of the story, where one of the crimes committed by Jesus of Nazareth is that he is reputed to be called the King of the Jews. Yet it was the Jews and their religious leaders who asked the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate to Crucify him. During his interrogation the incessant question was what kind of King are you.
Our king is mocked and treated with great dishonor in his final hours. He is even crucified along with two other confessed criminals. One of them is disrespectful enough to offer the teasing statement, “Are you not the Messiah, the predicted savior of the Jewish people, then save yourself and save us as well. His partner in crime is not nearly so mocking and is somewhat rebuking as he tells his other guilty partner that perhaps it might be wiser to fear God, since the punishment that they expect is exactly the same. They too are to die on a cross. He admits that he is to receive what he deserves, but Jesus, in his eyes has done nothing wrong.
The second criminal has a request. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” For those of us who are baptized and church attenders, we firmly believe that these are the benefits of being members of the family of God. We want to be remembered in all of the aspects of our lives. We want to be remembered in the fun times like a couple of Saturdays ago when we gathered together to eat and laugh and dance at the Chuck wagon dinner. I’m not sure that everyone was ready to be a part of the “square dancing”. Yet there was an image that I won’t forget, when we looked at the squares on the dance floor of Wagner Hall, the couples were not always male and female, they were not always older folks or younger folks, the squares were fully mixed with young and old. It was a community affair. For one of our members it was her first experience with an older version of an inter-generational activity of good fun, reminiscent of old time country stuff when communities really did gather.
There are times when we are the family of God gathered together to mourn our losses. On the first Sunday of November we remembered those from this family of God who have died in the past year. Just yesterday I heard a stunning lecture of how Martin Luther spoke about death being a time for sleep, until the day of Jesus Christ, the King, should come.
There are families who have suffered illnesses this year and we have individually and collectively held the hands of those in the middle of their worrying. Collectively we have served one another as the family of God. We have lived our lives in the Kingdom of God, while fully aware that our king is not here on earth, but with God.
Our King is a great warrior, but the battles that are waged are the ones his disciple, his foot soldiers, fulfill in our collective role as servants. You, the gathered people of God, are the ones who have served the Thanksgiving meals to those with no other place to go, you have been the ones to deliver those meals, and this year we are the ones who are preparing to serve more than twice the number we served last year. You are the ones who bring the necessities for kingdom living to those who have food needs. You support those who take yarn that are gifts that come in without asking and from them prayer shawls and lap blankets are made to serve those who are in need of additional warmth.
You are the ones, who as a church, supports the work of the Community Outreach Corporation as they serve young people in the after-school program, and the summer day camp. We as a community of God gathered in Christ’s name serve those who are new to this country with language instruction to assist them in living in a new and in some ways a strange new country.
Our support gives a hand up to those choosing to improve their education with courses at Harcum College. We are the ones who share our faith with the youth in this congregation through the Children’s Church and Confirmation. You are the ones who support the staff who keeps the ministry alive seven days per week.
That’s probably a lot more than the criminal expected when he said “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In many ways the Kingdom in which Jesus leads us is really more emblematic of the Shepherd who watches over his flock. Our shepherd watches us, protects us, guides us, and in many ways teaches us, what it means to be his fellow servants serving others. We become the assistants for the shepherd who lives with us and comforts us and supports us in the ministries that we encounter.
We become the servants of the King, which means we become servants of the Community. It is not often that we think of ourselves as disciples, but we are the ones who are going through the crowds in this neighborhood sharing the loaves and the fishes. It may look like turkey and all the fixings, but none the less it feeds those who are hungry for food.
We still have another assignment from our King. We are also called upon to feed the spirit with the word of God, that resides deep within the souls of those who share God’s love.
I have a wish for the coming year. It is that we find ways to share our faith easily and gracefully. For those who feel that they might be tongue tied, God will loose it. For those who are bashful, God will give you confidence, for those who say they have no story to tell of God’s grace and goodness, look again down deep inside, for there are pockets of God’s grace that we are reluctant to share.
For all we are asking is that you share with someone else, why you are a Child of God. In the next week may you all be blessed.