Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The One Who Puts Everything Right

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Colossian 1:11-20
Chatfield United Methodist Church
November 24, Christ the King Sunday
Rev. Debra Jene Collum


Today is Christ the King Sunday. The last Sunday in the church year. Next Sunday is the beginning of Advent, the beginning of a new year in the cycle of the church calendar.
I know it is confusing, Unless, like me you live this calendar week to week, season to season. It doesn’t seem like a new year next Sunday.

But next Sunday the colors will change from green to blue. You are invited to come be a part of the transformation tomorrow evening, Soup will be served and boxes will be taken out of storage as we prepare for the season of Advent. When we will begin again to tell the story of Jesus and God’s people from the beginning: the promised coming of Jesus who became that baby in a manger. And through his life death and resurrection transformed everything. Everything.

Today the story comes to its conclusion. Christ is King. Christ’s reign is come among us. And like everything else, even the concept of power, of kingdom is transformed.

We don’t know much about kings in the USA. We deliberately wrote our constitution so that a King, a sovereign person couldn’t take over and run the entire government, military and economy within their own whims and values.

So all we know about kings and queens is what we see on the TV. And the queen of England isn’t even close to the idea of King or Queen that is in the bible. She is a figure head with little real power.

What a king was in biblical times was a person who was given the power to make decisions and he didn’t have to listen to anyone else. A king in biblical times could demand that someone like John the Baptist lose his head simply because he didn’t like what John said about his marriage. A king in biblical times could put his mistress’ husband at the front line of battle so that the husband would get killed, just as David did.
A king in biblical times could demand that anyone who didn’t call him king or son of God or savior would be put to death, used as sport in violent games, or imprisoned with no trial or hope of release. As many of the Caesars of the Roman empire did.

Kings in biblical times, even King David, were not benevolent lovers of their people waving benignly from their balconies. Wearing funny hats and little white gloves.

Kings had power, destructive power. So why would we use the word Christ and King in the same description? Why would we want this baby in a manger to grow up to be a powerful King?

Because like everything else in life, Christ, Jesus our Messiah and Savior, transforms everything! Even what it means to be a powerful king.
Hear the words of Jeremiah: in those days I will raise up for David a righteous Branch and he shall reign as King and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: The Lord is our righteousness.

Or as Eugene Peterson translates the name: The One who puts everything right.

Here is the thing about Jesus. As we begin to prepare for the Christmas season, as we begin putting out our nativity scenes, placing the baby figure in his little manger, as we start getting all sentimental and feel good about this little baby,

Let’s not forget, this little baby is the best hope for the world. Jesus is the one who is putting everything right.

This little baby Jesus didn’t grow up to be just a nice man, a good preacher, a healer, a teacher who could move crowds to tremendous acts of mercy and goodness.

This little baby Jesus didn’t grow up to be just a nice man we could look up and hope to be like someday.

Jesus grew up and through his life, death and resurrection, transformed everything that had to do with power. Jesus transformed everything that had to do with power. In our relationships with each other, our relationships with the creation, our relationships within society.

In the reading in Colossians there is a very important phrase that captures just exactly how radical this transformation of power is:
God has rescued us from the power of darkness.
God has rescued us from the power of darkness.

Have you ever made believe that you were a king? or queen? or a super hero? or a cowboy? Someone with the power to decide the fate of another person? Someone who could say with one word, go here, go there, live, die.

Have you ever been in a place where you had to make a decision about the future of another person? Were you ever a boss? Or a parent? Or a daughter or son? deciding whether to hire or fire, whether to encourage or discourage, whether to direct or let go?

Have you ever been tempted to do something to someone else that would not be in their best interest? Have you ever put someone in the heat of battle, letting fate takes its course? Have you ever put down someone because you didn’t like their opinion? their attitude? Have you ever cut someone off at the knees?
Have you ever been tempted, like we heard in the news recently, to deface a rock or a beautiful tree simply because you had the power to do it?

Have you ever been tempted with even the small amount of power any of us has to go toward the darkness?

Of course, all of us have been tempted. Jesus was tempted toward darkness. Prove to us you are the son of God, prove to us that God loves you, throw yourself off this cliff, ask God to get you down from this cross. All of us have been tempted.
Some of us have succumbed to the power of darkness, even.
We have made children cry, we have hurt another person deeply, we have turned our backs because we didn’t want to get involved.

But we are not condemned. WE are not thrown out into a kingdom of darkness.

We are rescued, rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into a kingdom of light. Transferred. I like that description. We are relocated, moved. It implies that there isn’t much we can do about it. It just happens, because of God’s great love for us, because of Jesus’ work of transformation in the world, we are transferred from darkness into light.

And not only are we living in a new kind of kingdom with a new kind of king, we are living there as forgiven people. We are living in the this new kingdom of light as shame filled people, heads hanging down because of the times we have succumbed to the power of darkness.

Jesus is the transformation: of everything, even our own dark lives. Especially, our own dark lives.

We live in the light of God’s kingdom now, our impulses can be toward the light, toward love, toward all that Jesus taught us to be. When our child spills the milk one time too many, we can chose to turn towards the light and say, oops let’s clean that up together. (instead of shaming the child for being so clumsy) When we are required to tell someone something that might be hurtful, we remember their humanity, their vulnerability and frame the conversation in such a way that builds them up rather than tearing them down. When we encounter someone whose opinion makes us cringe, we see them as God sees them, as a beloved child of God.

Through the transformative power of the Christ, who is the King, we live in the kingdom of the Light. No more controlled by the power of darkness.

We are free. Truly set free. Let’s live in our new kingdom, let’s live as if this kingdom has already come among us. Let’s live as people rescued from the power of darkness.



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