My Thoughts On Christ-King Sunday
This past Sunday was Christ-King Sunday. It’s the last Sunday in the western liturgical calendar, celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church as well as many Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Mainline Protestants. Churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary observe Christ the King Sunday (titled Reign of Christ Sunday by some) as the last Sunday of the liturgical year. These churches include most major Anglican and mainline Protestant groups.
I led the ‘Call to worship’ at my church. I didn’t realize it was Christ-King Sunday until at the beginning of the service the associate pastor mentioned it. I am still new to all this liturgical stuff, so my thoughts on this Sunday what I observed and my reflections on it may or may not be aligned with the orthodoxy behind this church. I should remind you that orthodoxy is not as important to me as following Jesus authentically from where I am and helping others live a more humble, Christ-centered, God-glorifying life. It’s more important to me to love everyone and direct people to the love of God found in Christ Jesus than holding all the beliefs and dogma that the Christian church holds. There are certain doctrines I have issue with and I am trying to learn more about my chosen religion and what it means to be a Jesus-follower today.
As I stood on the stage welcoming the congregation, leading the call to worship and responsive reading, and saying my prayer, I thought about how wonderful it is to belong to a community serious about following Jesus and helping others do the same. A church that finds it more rewarding to love and serve others than doing church, a church more willing to get beyond the walls of a physical building to be the church in the world. Nowhere else, I would have wanted to be at that moment. I knew that I was exactly where I should be and doing the thing that I have been called to. This past Sunday only strengthened my desire to go to seminary and in ministry. I know I have been called to do something in the church, at the moment, I suspect it may be to be a hospital chaplain and guide people through illness and dealing with life’s difficulties. I also suspect this blog is part of my call to ministry. I reflected on all the things, both the good and bad that I have been through over the last year, how much I have grown, and where I am being led. I know that if it wasn’t for my church and faith in Jesus Christ I would not be where I am now and my future would be bleak at best. Yet, I am where I need to be to grow and live a powerful and abundant life in Christ.
Jesus gives each of us the ability to live humble, Christ-centered, God-glorifying lives. Jesus saves us not for our sake alone, but to serve others and extend to them the very love and grace we have been given. Worshiping Jesus not only gives us structure and purpose to our lives, but also helps us to live in healthier and saner ways. We go to church not for our sake or to be saved, but to pay homage to the God who loves us as we are, but way too much to leave us that way, the God who is working in and through us to bring about the kind of world that he planned before we were here. In our reverence, we understand who we are, who God is, and our relationship; designed for relationship to God we are restless until we find God.
Our world is out of whack—political leaders are better at bickering like 2-year-olds than coming to together for the common good, people are apathetic, corporations are towering over us more concerned about profit than people, our government would rather wage war than care for the poor. The fundamental fault with our culture is people have lost the sense of meaning in their lives. Life no longer has meaning; we have lost the willingness to help other and are living for ourselves. The gospel has become more and more about personal piety and a ticket to some far-off celestial kingdom waiting for us after this life. We think God is there to serve us, to make our life comfortable and happy. We see the church as a commodity, a tool to get us all the things we desire.
Romans 12 says true worship is offering our very lives as a living sacrifice to God that worship is not about getting the right words or beliefs, but living the kind of life that brings glory to God. True worship is not conforming to this world. Following Jesus is not easy or cheap, it costs us something to stand up and say yes to Jesus and what he has done for us. John Piper said, “God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.” Our world is in desperate need. It doesn’t need more of man and things. It needs more of God. The sooner we realize this and commit to being living sacrifices to God the better off we all will be. We shouldn’t live lives for ourselves, but should commit to being agents of the Kingdom of God. This will not look the same for everyone, but compassion and joy for life will be key components.
I have always liked these lines form the great American poet Walt Whitman. “This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
This is part of my prayer from this past Sunday and my hope for all believers everywhere. Acknowledge that from God comes all that is good, beautiful and true; praise God for His mercies, for His goodness that has created us, His grace that has sustained us, His discipline that has corrected us, His patience that has borne with us, and His love that has redeemed us. I pray that God will help us to love and to be thankful for all His gifts by serving Him and delighting to do His will.
We should take a moment, stop and contemplate where God is leading us, what His will is for our lives and how we can live lives that will honor the God of love and grace.
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