Sermon of the Week

A Year With Christ the King

Various scripture                    ‘A Year with Christ, the King”                November 20, 2022

            This is Christ the King Sunday .. that is not something I remember as I was growing up but it is an interesting way to end the liturgical year and begin a new year in the life of the church.

            Today is the end of  the year when it comes to things we do in the church … next week is the beginning of a new year – a new cycle.

So this Sunday is the New Year’s Eve of the church.  The time to look back and notice where God has been active and present in the world – in our church and in your individual life over this last year.

            It is also the time we look forward and celebrate the coming reign of Christ in the coming year 2023, a time to identify the hope that is born from looking at the entire life of Christ and his teachings that we have celebrated our the last year.

            We are going to do that by using scripture and music, memories and resolutions as we worship and deepen in our faith today.        

            As we reflect on the last year, we are reminded of the season that we are about to begin … the season of Advent … a time of preparation.    

Isaiah 40: 3-5  A voice cries:[a]
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.

5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    
and all flesh shall see it together,
    
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

 

 

The royal color of BLUE is the color we use to identify this season of preparing.  The word ADVENT means ‘coming/preparing’ and when we know something is coming up. Often there is a lot of preparation.  In Advent we are preparing for the birth of our Savior.

            In this country, Thanksgiving is a national holiday that begins our preparation. It is not a religious holiday but it gets us ready to enter into ADVENT.   Maybe one of the best ways to PREPARE for the coming of the Lord is in THANKS, being grateful and living in a spirit of generosity.

            Advent and preparation reminds us of situations in our lives when there are times of anticipation.  Like waiting and planning for an event. This year we waited and watched the planning and the marriage of Jenny and Steve Tarrant  (which reminded us that even in our planning, things change (like tornados).  And in that change, the family/community surrounded them and worked to readjust the plans.     Emily Gusew is engaged to be married, that involves a lot of planning and preparing. My grandson was born a few months ago and there was a lot of planning for that event. (and once again the plans changed at the last minute) and once again the community worked to succeed. 

Advent is a time of individual planning and also a time of group planning. Group ‘studies’, group celebrations and memories.

            There was planing for the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago the Isaiah passage was planning hundreds of years before the actual birth of Jesus. 

We plan for his birth this coming liturgical year during our coming Advent season. Seasons of planning and preparing are important.

            Think of times of preparation  in your lives and notice the times God may be preparing you for something new and different, even life changing.  Notice times of preparation in this next year and identify times that may involve planning and preparing for what is down the road for you and for the church.   One thing about planning and preparing, if we work to keep up on our connections with God and community, our Advent seasons (our preparation periods) are stronger and calmer.    If you wait to do everything at the last minute Christmas (life) gets hectic rather than  joyful. SO  in the ADVENT times of this next year, prepare YE the way of the LORD.

Our next season scripture is found in the Gospel of JOHN:   John 1: 1-5 and 14-18

JOY TO THE WORLD (1st verse)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life,[a] and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[a] full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ ”) 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[b] 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, himself God, who[c] is close to the Father’s heart,[d] who has made him known.

For the Christmas season,  we change the paramounts to white and Gold. Celebrating the purity of the infant Jesus.  Celebrating that God came to earth in the form of this tiny baby who came to save the world,  Christmas gives us hope for a new day.

            During the Christmas story we are reminded of 4 words, words that we have come to associate with the message of Jesus Advent often we use these words when we light our advent wreath: JOY. .. HOPE .. PEACE and….LOVE!

            As you celebrate Christmas moments over this next year,  have eyes to see where you see hope. Notice when people care for each other, helping each other in the grocery story, along the road,  at work or even in the news.  Notice signs of the Christmas message, messages of hope in a discouraged world. Messages of peace in angry times. Notice the message of joy in times of connection and meaning and in times of LOVE. Love is brought on by the message of the Savior of the World. With LOVE  beyond our understanding.   Christmas is a message to the darkness that a light shines! This light is to all people and the darkness can do NOTHING to stop the LIGHT!

            Epiphany comes next, and is usually the same colors as Christmas

 It means ‘to make known’.  In Epiphany we remember the ways and the events in which God is reveal through the person of Christ.  Epiphanies are times when we are able to understand who God is because we see God in new ways through Jesus.

            Epiphany is a time that teaches about the Magi and reminds us that Jesus came the world/ to everyone! Even to people who were not in the Jewish community,  people who were Gentiles and foreigners.  Scripture tells us that these people acknowledged that Jesus was King.  Scripture introduces the idea that this Messiah was for the whole world,  Jesus came for ALL people.

            Over this last year there have been several passages that we have studied in worship that have instructed us to care for those who are not like us.

Passages that remind us that Jesus came – taught and died for people who we might not have expected.  We have worked over this year and will continue to look for ways to reach out to those who might feel excluded!

We do this because of this epiphany message that God is a God of all creation.

            LENT  begins with our Ash Wednesday service with ashes on our foreheads and sharing in communion. The liturgical color changes to purple and then to black at the end of Passion week and the CROSS.  

  SING:   Lift High the Cross

Throughout the 6 weeks of Lent we study and learn about people connected to Jesus message over his 3 years of teaching. We see people who are sometimes faithful and we see people who are sometimes not faithful (just like us.) 

            Over this past year, we  read of times when people heard Jesus message and were changed forever and we read stories of people who saw and heard Jesus and walked away.   Over this last year we are probably not unlike what we read.

Sometimes we have done well to listen and follow Jesus and sometimes we have been distracted and have had our eyes somewhere else.

            Lent is a long season:  It is a time to stop and take a look at where we are in the light of Jesus message.  It is a time to notice where we are distracted and then work to refocus our eyes on God.  Lent is a time to acknowledge that there are ‘lenten times’ …periods of suffering and pain in this life and that is a struggle.

            Lent is a time to recognize that without Jesus we are lost.

            As we think about the past year notice the ‘lenten times’ in your life.  Think of times when you were not where you wanted to be.. acknowledge the reality that we need forgiveness and hope.   There are times in the year that are lenten times …. Times of reflection – times when we need to realize that we are in need of adjustment and renewal. Those times are often difficult, but even in those times know that EASTER is coming.

            (EASTER) After the purple and after the darkness of the 6 weeks of Lent … we come to the verses in the Gospel of Matthew and we come to the RESURRECTION …

Matthew 28:1-8                                     Christ the Lord is Risen Today

28 After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples.

            EASTER: the good news.  Jesus is not dead he has risen!  The Tomb is empty and Christ has defeated death forever.  The color of this season is WHITE and represents the forgiveness of sins – the washing clean of anything that keeps us apart from God.  It is about renewal and new life, it is about making all things new! Easter is about the fact that God is victorious, God wins.

            Think about last year.  Were there moments when you were aware of the ability of God to make you new? Think about times when you felt God renewing you and strengthening you to become the best person you could be, times when the strength of the resurrection was what allowed you to keep going on.

            Often after the ‘Lenten’ times in our lives / times of struggle and even suffering, there are resurrection moments.  After the often long and difficult times in life there are times of hope and renewal.

Pentecost:   the season of Pentecost is the time in church when people wear RED.

            In Pentecost we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit.                                   SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD:    We celebrate the presence of the third person of the Trinity, the Father the Son and the HOLY SPIRIT

As we reflect on this last year. Think back on times when you were encouraged, times when you felt that God helped you with wisdom and insight.  Sometimes it is  hard to RECOGNIZE the holy spirit working in our lives each day.  So this coming year, work to notice when the Spirit of God is giving you breath so that you can move, so that you can be encouraged, so that you can be strong and courageous!

            Our final season is ordinary time (GREEN). Ordinary time is a time to focus on the many stories and examples in scripture [and in your life, and the life of this worshipping community, of people who were/ who are/ going about life working to ‘live out’  being the hands and feet of Christ in this world. Growing times of faith and community.  During ordinary time this past year, we read scripture passages telling of followers who responded to the call from Christ to follow  Jesus.  

            Ordinary times have many stories of regular people living to follow Jesus: doing justice and walking humbly with your God, and striving for care and justice in the world.  People working to love others!

            So as we begin to follow another year of Jesus / another year with Christ the KING, do so with intention and focus to strive to hear God’s word to YOU! Focus to hear words of instruction, words of encouragement, words of forgiveness and grace, words of hope and peace,  love and joy. And may YOU continue to work to love God with all your heart, your mind,  your soul, and your strength, and to love others as yourself .    AMEN