Sermon: Christ The King, 26 November 2017, Rev. Jane Chapman, St Aidan’s

Christ, the King: Last Sunday after Pentecost

Rev. Jane Chapman

Ez: 34.11-16, 20-24;

Ps 100 or 45.1-7

Eph 1.15-23

Today is the last Sunday after Pentecost…and our Gospel is that for Christ the King.

And, indeed, there is so very much in today’s readings about He whom we call Jesus: Redeemer, Master of our hearts, the New Testament Shepherd, our God who leads us out of sinfulness and is willing, with exquisite and loving patience, to bring us to an understanding of his role in relationship to us, and our role in relationship to Him.

Ezekiel tells us that, as a race, we were scattered, that we had no shepherd, that we were, in essence, mindless sheep.  Our psalm also tells us that we had no shepherd and we were in dire need of being rescued…and that we can and will be rescued by the One who draws us gently into His flock.

Thus, we become the people of God’s pasture.  Let’s for a few moments think about what it is like to be the people of God’s pasture:

  • we are not alone
  • we are always and everywhere well held: think for  a moment of just how very important it is for us, as human beings, to know that we are indeed well held;
  • we are not “scattered sheep”: we have an ever-open call and invitation to be accompanied in our life journey by He who holds the universe and lights the “stars”;
  • we are bidden to “come into God’s presence with surety and gladness”: it is an ever-present invitation from a God who wants for us to be willing to  belong to him,  and to know the beauty of his ever-holding, ever-readiness to reassure us that we are loved.

Our underlying need to be truly known and truly held is not only a need, but a gift…and an exceedingly rare one at that.  This Man- God expresses for us his own transcendent willingness to hold us, each and every one, as his own separate and specific person.  Though many, we are not lost in a competitive crowd.  Only God, only Jesus, the specifically human and divine master, shares this astounding gift with us.

We are of the same nature…God and you and me, by virtue of Jesus’ willingness to don forever our shared humanity and open the possibility to us to be drawn into that loving actuality that is both his and ours.

No wonder we are bidden to call him ‘King’.  His gentle power is all pervasive.  In today’s terms this King of ours is a walking “open door”!  No hurt of ours is unable to be held in his loving hands.  No hope is disregarded.  Not even our own sinfulness, such as it is, is denied the annealing of his gentle understanding and his willingness to stay by us in the hour of our daily struggles.

Human history is full of stories about kings…good kings, good queens, good followers of humanity and its inherent laws; and of ‘bad’ kings who trample further the down-trodden and grab what little they have and who consume the lives and the actualities of their subjects…

…and, in the wings of the world, there waits One whose capacity to love outshines the more pallid possibilities of our earth-only monarchs.

Ths is the One whose crown was once fashioned by thorns…the One whose footsteps stumbled under the burden of a crudely-fashioned Cross…the One who hung pierced and still, in all aloneness and pain, still cared for others, for all of us in our fragile humanity.

Within us, there lives a need to be joined to this King.  We are fashioned in His likeness and He calls down from Heaven, from his Father, from His Spirit, the nature and task to which he bequests a measure of his Kingliness, for us to take up willingly and follow in his footsteps.

Can we learn enough to love in the way this King loves?  Can we hear Him calling us, firstly to know that we are beloved by Him, to draw us out of our own preoccupations and open for us the doors of a willingness to serve?

For here-in lies the core of Jesus kingliness: the will to love without with-holding; the knowing of love to be a knowing of his call to service; the call both for self and others that keeps our focus on our own humanity and its capabilities; the constantly sought awareness of each other’s company, as gift, not  burden.

Together we acknowledge his kingdom of loving… and by his very grace allow ourselves to be captured by that love.