Now Is The Time Lent Study

Kingdom - Weekly Reflections 11-18-15

 The texts for Sunday, November 22:

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church Year, known as Christ the King. What does it mean that Christ is our King in the midst of all the violence, hatred, and unrest of this present time? What comfort do we find? What challenge do we hear?

Last week I shared ideas about how to talk to children about apocalyptic writings.  You can see the complete list here but let me remind us of the last three: Horrible things happen to each of us during our lifetimes; Sometimes each of us must be brave and endure hard times; No matter how it looks at the moment, the bad guys will not win.  God will.

When I was in seminary, my systematic theology professor, Walter Bouman, “confessed” that when reading a mystery, he would start with the last chapter to see “who done it”. Then going back to the beginning with that knowledge, the whole story would be different. That, he proclaimed, is what it is like to be a Christian. You know the ending so the present is different.   No matter how it looks at the moment, the bad guys will not win. God will. Comfort? Challenge?

What does it mean that Christ is our King when you read all the appointed texts today? What comfort do we find? What challenge do we hear?

 The first reading, the psalm and the second reading describe dominion, majesty and glory, typical power-things one expects for a king….sounds secure. Then we get to the Gospel text which lands us back on Good Friday with Jesus standing before Pilate just before being sentenced to death: “Are you the King of the Jews?” “My kingdom is not from this world”. 

I admit that I was impressed by how quickly the French retaliated by bombing ISIS and thought “way to go”. And then Russia bombed them quickly after confirming a bomb was planted in the downed airliner... swift retribution for both acts.

But… in a commentary by Dr. David Lose, I was reminded that I need to pay careful attention to Jesus' words “My kingdom is not of this world…my followers would be up in arms if it was from this world.” Jesus and his followers did not fight – God’s kingdom is not about the constant violence and death of this world. Comfort? Challenge?  I’m not sure - but I am sure I can’t just blow that off.

To my surprise, Sunday's text ends before these key words come out of Pilate’s mouth: What is truth? Verse 38 is the perfect question for this post-modern era. What is truth? Even though it is not a part of Sunday’s text, I will end with this quote from Fredrick Buechner in Secrets in the Dark. 

Jesus did not say that religion was the truth, or that his own teachings were the truth, or that what people taught about him was the truth, or that the Bible was the truth, or the church, or any system of ethics or theological doctrine. There are individual truths in all of them, we hope and believe, but individual truths were not what Pilate was after, or what you and I are after either, unless I miss my guess. Truths about this or that are a dime a dozen, including religious truths. THE truth is what Pilate is after: the truth about who we are and who God is if there is a God, the truth about life, the truth about death, the truth about truth itself. That is the truth we are all of us after.

What do you think?  
Where do you find your comfort when our days are filled with violence, wars, and death?
What is the challenge in all that for you?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, November 22, for more ways to reflect on these verses.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comment section below.

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245