Scriptures: Revelation 1:4b-8 John 18:33-37
LET US PRAY: God of grace and glory: open our ears to hear Your message; open our eyes to see You among us and within us; open our hearts to live out Your Message. Amen
Today = Reign of Christ Sunday … OR, formerly, Christ the King Sunday.
When I say the word KING … what images come to mind?
What would you say are the key JOBS of a KING … RULER?
- Lead the country
- Provide for the welfare of the people
- Watch over finances / armies / laws
- AND, HOPEFULLY … also
- Listen to the people
- Care for your people
- Work to make life / world better place for your realm / people through:
- Equality and jobs for all
- Food and education for everyone
- Health insurance for everyone
Major responsibility, isn’t it?!!! Not a job I’d like to do!!!
Today, I want to share a story about the life & responsibilities of kings … “A Drop of Honey”
As I said: today = Christ the King Sunday. And, while in word and song we may claim that Jesus is King of Kings … Lord of Lords … how does any of our ideas of kings OR our story ties in with our image of Jesus as King?
In our scriptures, the followers of Jesus proclaimed Him “Lord” ~ a term that acknowledged His sovereignty. And, all Gospel writers spoke of Jesus’ “dominion” over all creation. But, those titles don’t’ really come close to the true nature of Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies as the Messiah and Savior.
Look at the conversation between Jesus and Pilate in today’s Gospel reading. As we listen in, we learn that there is more to Jesus’ ministry and teachings than just being considered a “King.”
As Pilate questioned Jesus about being a “King”, Jesus insisted that Pilate make up his own mind about His identity and authority. In essence, Jesus was challenging Pilate to NOT listen to local scuttlebutt … but to speak from his heart. And, isn’t this the basis of working and living on FAITH … that is, using our own free will to make up our minds about what and who we believe … and NOT be swayed by popular opinion.
In His conversation with Pilate ~ as in all of His teachings ~ Jesus has turned the traditional understanding of religion upside down. According to Jesus, the story of salvation is not about individual success, personal elevation, national supremacy, political authority or social superiority. According to Jesus, being a good and just leader is shaped by compassion. Love reigns supreme … leading to redemption through forgiveness and reconciliation.
The story of God’s work in the world consists of both hope and despair ~ NOT hope in the absence of despair, but hope in the face of despair. Our worst moments do not disqualify as recipients of God’s grace. Tather, God’s grace is for people mired in their worst moments. Our suffering does not occur outside the realm of God’s love. Rather, God’s love finds its most memorable expression in suffering or through suffering.
The story of God’s work in the world enables us to realize that the essence of meaning in our lives resides not in what we can do but in all God can do in us, through us, and with us. Then, it becomes clear to us that what we receive from God ~ the hope, the strength, the encouragement, the assurance ~ is available nowhere else … and from no one else. No other story can make the promises and deliver the fulfillment that can be found in God’s story.
As we look back over the dramatic sweep of God’s story of salvation ~ we see love with flesh on it; sin as an opportunity for forgiveness; suffering as a cradle for hope; war as a context in which to discover the meaning, importance and ways of peace; darkness as a prelude to light ~ all made bearable in and through God’s greatest gift of love … that is, His Son, Jesus Christ. It is almost too immense and wonderful to fully comprehend.
On this Sunday ~ we remember and give thanks for the REIGN of Christ our King … who set the perfect example and reminds us that it is:
- OK to have self doubts
- OK to hesitate before starting a difficult task, hoping someone else will start the ball rolling
- OK to worry that we don’t have the talents or the RIGHT stuff to get the job done.
Today, we write THE END to this particular church year.
But, even more importantly: we will soon celebrate the advent of a new church year …AND celebrate the advent of Jesus ~ our non-traditional King ~ who was:
- Humbly birth in a cattle shed
- Worked with his hands
- Traveled with rag-tag bunch of followers
- Relied on generosity of others
- Lived out what He preached … that is:
- Bringing the Kingdom of heaven to the down-trodden
- Extending comfort to those who were sick or mourned losses in life
- Giving a name to the overlooked and meek
- Encouraging all who work for justice and peace and equality
- Offering God’s richest blessings for persevering in the struggle to make God’s vision for His Kingdom on earth a reality.
- Promised His on-going presence and gifts of courage and strength for all who were willing to do what HE did … to teach and preach, baptizing and making disciples in the name of the blessed Trinity.
In gratitude to Christ our King and priceless gift of love, may we joyfully share God’s Kingdom here on earth with everyone that we meet! AMEN.
A Drop of Honey
Once a king stood on his balcony, eating honey on rice cakes with his chief adviser. As they ate, they gazed down on the street below. The king was in good humor that day, and as he laughed, a drop of honey fell from his rice cake onto the railing.
“Sire, you have spilled a drop of honey. Do let me wipe it up for you,” offered his advisor.
“Oh, pay it no mind,” said the king. “It’s not our concern. The servants will clean it up later. I do not wish to be disturbed just now.”
They went on eating and talking as the drop of honey warmed in the sun and began to slowly drip down the rail. At last it fell onto the street below.
Attracted by the sweet smell, a fly landed on it and began to eat.
“Your Highness,” the advisor commented, “the drop of honey has now landed in the street and is attracting flies. Perhaps we should call someone to clean it.”
“Pay it no mind,” answered the king merrily. “It is not our concern.”
Suddenly a gecko sprang out from under the palace, and ate the fly in one gulp. Next a cat spied the gecko and pounced. The cat playing with its food in the middle of the street caught the attention of a dog, who attacked it.
“Now, sire, there is a cat and dog fight in the street. Surely we should call someone to stop it?” implored the advisor.
“Oh, pay it no mind,” said the king. “Here comes the cat and dog owners; they’ll stop it. We don’t need to get involved.”
So the two continued to eat their honey and rice cakes and to watch the spectacle from their comfortable perch.
But below in the street, the cat’s owner began beating the dog. The dog’s owner then started to beat the cat. Soon the two were beating each other.
The king’s good humor turned to anger as he watched the scene below. “I’ll have no fighting in my streets,” he bellowed. “Call in my guards to quell this battle at once!”
The palace guards were summoned. But by this time the fight had grown as friends on either side joined in the fray. The guards tried to break up the fighting, but soon they too had joined in. With guards involved, the fight erupted into civil war. Houses were burned, and the palace itself was set on fire and destroyed.
The kingdom was never returned to its former splendor, but new wisdom was gained in that country. Some people still say: We are each responsible for our actions, large and small. Small problems if unattended grow into larger ones, and a whole kingdom can be lost from a drop of honey.