Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sermon given at United Church of Beloit, Nov. 25, 2012. 

Psalm 93
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Lord Reigns

93 The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

John 18:33-37
English Standard Version (ESV)
My Kingdom Is Not of This World
33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Make Way for The King!

Lectionary...3 year cycle of readings that will take a church through most of the Bible. The Lectionary year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, advent being the 4 weeks preceeding Christmas. So the lectionary year C begins next week. SO today is the end of the is Christ the King Sunday or the Reign of Christ Sunday. This day, the end of the lectionary cycle celebrates the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. It makes for an interesting way to get into the holiday season doesn't it? Thinkign about Jesus as the Ruler of Heaven and Earth...and next week we start over, anticipating the story of the Nativity.
so today we celebrate that Jesus is KING.

Ok in the USA, we don't have a king, indeed royalty today mostly have limited influence, nothing like in centuries past. So it may be hard for us to think in terms of a king. When we talk in our society about a king, it's usually a pop culture person!

In Bible times, there were local kings, like Herod, who was king of Judea, the southern area of what we know today as Israel. And there was the Roman emperor, Tiberius. These were men who exerted a lot of power, for good or ill. In this time period, the Emperor, also known as Caesar, Tiberias, in the year 19-roughly a decade before Jesus' ministry and trial- had had all Jews kicked out of Rome, and so there was not a lot of love between Caesar and the Jewish people. And adding to the animosity, In these times, one of the titles of Caesar was son of god, which of course was not something that the Jewish people could take to, being worshipers of God, the One true God!

In our New Testament that we hear during Holy week, Jesus has been arrested and is before Pontius Pilate. Pilate was a Governor, employed by Rome. The job of a Roman governor in a place like Jerusalem was to keep the peace, to administer justice, to collect the taxes, and particularly to suppress unrest.


this passage is titled, My Kingdom is not of this world. Indeed Jesus' kingdom did not Originate on earth did it...but in heaven.

Pilate, tho not Jewish, may have some familarity with Jewish traditions. He asks Jesus “are you the king of the Jews” Jesus asks Pilate, are you asking on your own authority? And Jesus says My Kingdom is not of this world.

All through the Gospels, Jesus spoke of the Kingdom.
Jesus said the Kingdom of heaven has come near! Repent and believe the Good news!

But seek first the kingdom of God...

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

“Let the little children come to me.... for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Jesus talked all the time of Kingdom.

This is not an earthly kingdom he is referring to. Our Gospel lesson is from John, who begins his gospel saying that Jesus was indeed present In the Beginning, at the creation of all things. Jesus is talking about the Kingdom of all...of all creation, of heaven and earth.

Jesus even taught us to pray for this...we pray Thy Kingdom Come... thy will be done ON earth as it IS in heaven...
we pray for this, how will it happen? The Kingdom come on earth...
can it be that we are to be part of the answer?

Jesus said For this purpose I was bear witness to the truth. What truth? In biblical times, truth was the latest proclamation from the emperor. If it contradicted last week's truth, oh well. Today's statement is today's truth.
Jesus was not talking about a “truth” that changes from day to day. Jesus was talking about eternal truth. That God is ONE God, creator of all. That the Holy Scriptures are truth.. in fact the prophet Daniel refers to 'the Book of Truth.” Jesus prayed for his followers-- Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
John's Gospel chapter 1, Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
and what else did Jesus say about truth? “I am the way and the truth and the life..”
Jesus was born to bear witness to the truth. The truth of the LOVE of God, for God so LOVED the world....all the world, all of God's creation, that God gave (See that? God loved, love spurs action, God gave....God's only begotten Son...that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” The WHOLE world!! and the word saved here means saved for eternity, but also healed, made whole. That is the Saving Grace of the Kingdom!

Jesus was a king, but not an earthly king. Jesus did not attain a crown through military action, through what we consider might and power. Quite the contrary. He came to earth as a baby, completely vulnerable. He served, and taught and healed, and loved. His life ended, on a cross, completely vulnerable once again—enduring the worst that humanity could dish out. His kingdom was not of this world. It originated in heaven-where there will be no mourning or crying or pain.

Jesus was born to bring people together in God. All people Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female..

when all people are together, and care ABOUT one another, they care FOR one another as well. When we spurs action. We reach out to those around us.

In the holiday season, our culture may not encourage the Kingdom of heaven. Quite the contrary. We are encouraged to give more, spend more, to do more, to go to more places...and we may find we enjoy it less. Let us, this season, each of us, and as a church, this United Church of Beloit, make a good effort to remember the One whose kingdom we celebrate. Spend some time with the Word each day, to help keep our focus on Jesus. Think and pray about your giving and your charitable giving. Remember to give thanks for the little things, as well as the big ones. Remember that Jesus is King and Lord and He came for the sole purpose of bringing Heaven and earth--God and Humans, together. And when we follow...we can help others see that Kingdom in us and around us. WE can make the Kingdom happen, here on it is in heaven. We can be the answer to our prayer! Each of us, working together can help bring about the Kingdom for which Jesus was born. We do this by living our faith, by caring for others, as Jesus did in the Gospels. He took care of people, making sure their needs were met, feeding them, honoring their faith, helping them see the God of compassion. The peace of Christ, the peace that saves, heals, the peace of wholeness, and protection, right here on earth.

Jesus said, For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Today we wrap up the Christian year, and we will soon look forward once again to the arrival of the New Born King. Let us seek and honor His kingdom, and make way for the King of Kings!

Sovereign God, ruler of all creation,
you sent Jesus to testify to the truth:
that you alone are the Lord of life.
Help us to listen always to his voice
so that we may proclaim his realm
of justice, peace, and endless love;
through Christ, who reigns forever.

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