How Does it End? Reflections 11-21-2021

The texts for Sunday, November 21
Christ the King Sunday

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

Ok. I guess this is a confession. I know many book readers/lovers do find it to be an offensive act. Here it is…

When I read a mystery, I skip to the back chapters to see how it ends, often finding out “who done it”. With that knowledge, as I start (or restart) the beginning of the book, the whole story and all the characters are different. One way to say it is that I read “proleptically”, anticipating the movement of the plot through my knowledge of the ending.

When I got to seminary, my systematic theology professor, Walter Bouman, (who, BTW, also admitted to reading that way) pointed out that Christians live their faith that way. We know the ending to the Jesus story so our understanding of the present is different than if we didn’t. No matter how it looks at the moment, the “bad guys” will not win (hate and violence will not win). Finally, God wins (Love wins). We announce our proleptic long view along with today’s text from Revelation proclaiming the final victory of our Lord God who was, who is, and who is to come.

If you quickly skim through the first three readings for this Sunday, you find descriptions of past and present and future trappings of majesty and honor that one confers upon royalty. Nothing new here.

But then you get to the Gospel. Christ the King stands before Pilate as a prisoner,  being interrogated for a capital crime, will most certainly be sentenced to death.
Pilate asks: “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus tells Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world…my followers would be up in arms if it was from this world.”

In this scene from early Good Friday, Jesus redefines dominion and majesty. God’s power is different. God’s kingdom is not about the constant violence and death of this world. This is not how it ends.

Sometimes, especially when I watch newscasts, it feels the like hate, conflict, lies, and pain is unending. There is no doubt about it - we live in a world of big hurt.

Jesus lived in the same “big hurt” world. In fact, God so loved that hurting world that he sent Jesus who reached out to the least and lost, served others, testified to God’s truth of welcome and forgiveness, brought love rather than hate. 

We know how it ends. Actually, the end has begun and the kingdom is at hand. It’s here whenever we see or bring love, justice, peace, forgiveness, and welcome to the world’s hurt.  

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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