Sunday, November 22, 2015

Feast of Christ the King November 21/22, 2015 Austin, TX

          If you have seen the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy from a decade ago, you  know that the third and concluding section was “The Return of the King”.  In this final part of the trilogy there is a battle of cosmic proportions, the evil ring is destroyed, good finally triumphs, peace and justice are restored, and the rightful king is established on his throne.  With the return of the King things are put right again, balance and harmony return, and justice flourishes.
          Is this all just a fairy tale, wishful thinking?   Or is it an artistic image of the truth?  I want to argue for the later.  I believe that is an image of what we are celebrating today.  For we too are awaiting the return of the King.  From the Book of Revelations we heard: “Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him. Yes. Amen.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, " says the Lord God,
"the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."
          And from the Book of Daniel we heard: “the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.”
          We Christians are looking for the return and establishment of the world’s rightful ruler, for justice and peace to be finally and definitively established, for right to prevail over might, for the rights of the poor to be respected, for harmony and health and goodwill to flourish.  We eagerly await the establishment of the Kingdom of God. 
We yearn for the return of the King. 
          This is basic to Christianity.  In the Creed which we will profess in just a few minutes we state: “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”   He will come!  That is central to our Christian belief.  One of the earliest Christian prayers we have, in Jesus’ own Aramaic language, is Maranatha!  “O Lord, Come!” 
          // Now the words we have today from the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation are mythic language.  They tell us the truth about the meaning and import of Christ’s Kingship, and that it will be definitively established.  But this is not a literal  description of a future historic event.  We don’t have the mental categories, much less the language, to be able to describe such an event.  But we don’t need to.  We know the meaning and the fact of the coming of God’s Kingdom, even if we don’t have a full description of the “how.”
          And this is important because this knowledge gives us hope.  In the grand cosmic struggle between good and evil, darkness and light, right and wrong, life and death, God wins.  In fact, in Christ Jesus, King of the Cosmos, God has already won.  The Resurrection of Jesus is the definitive triumph of God over sin, over death, over evil.  The issue is not in doubt.  Jesus is King.  But the full working out of His triumph has not yet occurred, and especially has not yet fully happened in my life nor in yours.  We still struggle against our frailties and sins to make Jesus the King of my life NOW.
          But this faith in Jesus the King does give us hope.  This hope is different from optimism.  Things may get worse before they get better. 
          Our leaders may, and probably will, mess it up.  We may, and probably will, give in to greed or fear or hate or lust or envy.  The power of sin is still very real.  But the ultimate victory is assured.  Because the victory does not depend on us; not on the skill and effectiveness of our political system (thank God!), not on the brilliance of our universities, not on the productivity of our economy, not on the creativity of our artistic community, not on the might of our military, not even on the sanctity of our churches. 
          The victory depends on the King.  On Christ Jesus.  On the Cross.  And it is already won.  MEANWHILE, we draw hope and inspiration from our faith in order to struggle against evil.  The struggle is not in vain.  It is not useless.  We have very well found hope for victory.  But we must struggle.  We struggle in our own hearts – against laziness, selfishness, pride, envy, greed, lust, fear and hate.  We struggle in our own families and neighborhoods for understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, love.  We struggle in our society for justice, for peace, against the fear and prejudice that would keep Syrian refugees out of our State, against racism, injustice, against degrading others because of their religion, or sexual orientation, or national origin, or economic status. 
          We are still deeply involved in the struggle.  But we know that Christ the King is victorious.  He is coming.
          Most importantly, He loves us. 

Maranatha!   O Lord, Come!  

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