Christ the King – Politics and Palliative Care

This morning we come to the end of the church year. Over the past twelve months we have celebrated God’s self-revelation in Advent and Christmas and Epiphany. We have recalled the suffering patience of Jesus in the season of Lent. We have walked through the darkness of Good Friday into the glory of Easter morning. We have faced the mystery and glory of Pentecost – the life of the Spirit given to create and equip the church. We have journeyed through ordinary time, listening to the stories of Jesus and God’s people.

And today we come to the last Sunday of the year, which the church celebrates under the banner of Christ the King.

We end the year with a statement of faith.

We end the year with a statement of hope.

We end the year with a statement of Christ’s glory.

We end the year with a decidedly political statement – Christ is King.

This declaration that Christ is King raises all kinds of important questions, of course, What kind of a king is he? What kind of kingdom is he bringing to our world? And the truth is that when we talk about that wandering rabbi, the language of kingship and sovereignty might not be the first thing to come to mind. In many cases kings have been absolute sovereigns – they have exercised power at will – they have commanded vast armies – they have gone to war without just cause – they have been wealthy tyrants – they have only too rarely served their people with integrity and grace. Continue reading

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Brokenness and Beauty

UnknownKintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese practice and refers to the repair of broken pottery. In this particular practice, a broken piece of pottery is repaired using a resin that is sprinkled with gold. The pieces of a broken bowl or cup of plate are bound together with this gold-sprinkled resin.

The result is striking, as is apparent from the bowl pictured.

When these pieces of pottery were originally crafted they were beautiful in their own right – they were crafted with care; they were functional; they were unique. But somewhere along the line they got broken. Perhaps they were treated carelessly – maybe banged down on a table in anger. Or perhaps they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were mistakenly sent tumbling to the floor. Whatever happened, the pieces ended up strewn across the floor.

But someone cared enough to take these broken bowls – and to mend them. And the result is not a piece of pottery that is returned to its original condition. The result is not a bowl that is the same as it always was. Rather, the result of this repair work is a bowl that carries in itself the marks of the past – it has been broken, that much is obvious – it is scarred. Continue reading

Christ the King Sunday – Joy, Gentleness, Peace (a sermon)

This is a day of lasts. Not a day of firsts, but of lasts. Today is our last Sunday looking at Paul’s letter to the Philippians. And today is also the last Sunday of the church year. Each year we close out the liturgical calendar, we end the church year with the celebration of the Reign of Christ. Next week a new church year will begin with Advent as we anticipate the birth of Christ and the coming of Christ. But today we close out this past year with a reminder and a celebration of the reign of Christ – the kingship of Christ in our lives, in our church, and in our world.

And what better way to celebrate the reign of Christ – what better way to celebrate the rule of Christ in our lives – than with these three beautiful words: Joy, Gentleness, and Peace. These words aren’t arbitrarily chosen of course. They come from the final passage we are looking at in Philippians. So in a way, Paul is closing out this year for us – he does so with these beautiful words.

First, joy. Paul writes to the Philippian Christians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice.” Continue reading

Christ the King

My sermon from this past Sunday.

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 Today, as is indicated on our bulletin cover, is Christ the King Sunday. 

Next week we will begin a new church year as we move into the season of Advent. And today we close out the old church year, doing so by celebrating the kingship of Jesus Christ. Our human lives are lived in a rhythm of years – year passes into year. And through the rhythm of our years the truth gospel gives shape to our lives. This morning, the gospel reminds us that Christ is king – the gospel reminds us that in the passage of our days and years there is no moment that is not lived under his lordship, his kingship.

In Canadian society today, of course, the idea of kingship, of royalty, is pretty distant from the thought and life of most people. I recall that just a few months ago there was a debate whether the Governor General, Michaelle Jean should be referring to herself as Canada’s head of state. The Prime Minister’s office intervened, suggesting that Queen Elizabeth is in fact the head of state and that the Governor General is simply her representative in Canada. Most Canadians, of course, heard nothing of this debate, and the vast majority of who did hear about it likely offered yawn of indifference. Whether or not the monarchy is important to our history and society, monarchy provokes a yawn of indifference. Continue reading