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Sermon for Christ the King Year B

September 26, 2015

Patmos

He has made us a kingdom, priests to God his Father – words from our first reading.

In the name…..

There are pins stuck on a map on the wall at McDonald’s headquarters. Showing all the McDonald’s in the world. The writer of Revelation envisages Christian communities as lamps that are to be light to the world

John wrote during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian, one of the most vicious persecutors of the church, a man who declared himself to be the lord and god of the Roman people.

John tells them: “Don’t worry, God is the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty One.”

John was an old man, probably in his 90’s. He had ministered in the Roman province of Asia, the Roman government had him banished to an obscure island in the Mediterranean. The island of Patmos was a “Roman Alcatraz” without walls; a rocky, desolate island about 10 miles by 6. Most of the prisoners were forced labourers in the marble quarries

One Sunday morning he heard a loud, dramatic voice behind him. He turned around and saw, not the rocky seascape of Patmos, but the province of Asia again, from the point of view of God. Asia with seven lighted lamp stands, which represent the seven churches,

John writes, “And God has made us a kingdom …”

“Kingdom” singular, collective; stressing our relationship to each other as believers and to Christ as our king. We are a kingdom, a people in whom God is to rule and who will one day reign with Christ. He has also made us “Priests”, plural. Each of us has our individual responsibility to represent God to the world.

In our gospel, Jesus is on trial. Pilate takes his seat in the court-room.  Representing Caesar, far away in Rome.  Dominion is the issue in this court-room.  Who Has the Power?  Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you really a King?” Are you really the person in charge here?

Jesus cross-examines at once: “Does the question come from you, or is this hearsay?

Pilate’s riposte, curling his lip, disdainfully: “Do I look like a Jew?” This is a local controversy! Your own nation’s authorities have brought this action.

For Jesus this court room has no jurisdiction. My kingdom is not from here: it is not derived from the Caesars, as yours is. King is your word. It’s a political term that you use to legitimate your power.”

Jesus is the Truly Human One. Jesus is the graceful alternative to the lies of tyrannical kings.

As Pilate turns to leave Jesus and go back out to face the bloodthirsty crowd, he wonders aloud, What is truth?

In Greek intellectualism, truth was something one thought. But Pilate was a practical politician, who attached no importance to the speculations of philosophers or the dreams of enthusiasts. For Pilate, soldiers and armies were truth; Rome was truth; Caesar was truth; political power was truth . Pilate finds Jesus difficult to understand. Jesus introduces Pilate to the notion that the truth is found in human beings.

Pope Pius XI introduced the feast of Christ the King in 1925.  The popes had lost most of their land in Italy. Bolshevism was coming to Eastern Europe, Emperor worship rising in Japan, Nazism popular in Germany, fascism making Italy eager once again for Empire, So he denounced the modern age, and declared that Jesus Christ was the true Ruler of the World,

The dominion of humankind, of the Son of Man, of the Human Project, is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, Maybe Karl Marx was on to something when he prophesied that the nation-state would give way to the People.  to succeed snarling nationalisms pillaging the planet.

John on Patmos assures us that Christ is pantokrater, “the one who has his hand on everything;” in contrast to the Roman emperor’s self-designation as the autokrator. That we are free of the powers that be

One of today’s greatest issues is the future of our planet as global capitalism encourages to use up more and more resources. Another issue is famine and poverty as millions go without while some of us consume too much.

We are lights on God’s map. Christians in the community. Volunteering, running businesses with integrity, giving to charity, caring for the housebound. The work we do to further God’s kingdom for the poor, for the planet. We can make a difference. This community here. The relationships we have with one another. In Christ’s kingdom, we are all a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and the kind of service we render to one another in love is what we are made for.

He has made us a kingdom, priests to God his Father.

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From → My Sermons

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