Archive for radical

Both/And : a sermon for Christ the King

Posted in sermons with tags , , , , on November 22, 2014 by fibrefairy

I wonder if you’ve ever been in West Quay or some other public place when some celebrity or other is making an appearance, or signing a book. Or perhaps you’ve been part of a crowd at a concert or a sporting event, or even a royal visit or parade.

There’s something about celebrity,  authority, influence that draws us in, makes us want to be close, to jostle for  proximity , to get a signature or have even have a conversation with the person.

In a work situation we’ve all been or seen those who linger after meetings, hanging around for a word with the boss, hoping that we might gain something to our advantage.

Today in the Church we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King,

A day when we can focus on Christ as the final authority, the King in Glory, Lord of all the earth.

It’s the final Sunday of the Church’s year – and  reflects that culmination of all that has gone before – the birth, the ministry the death & resurrection, the growth of the church ;and we are reminded of what ultimately Jesus is, becomes, King.  King of all of everyone of everything.

A King with the power of judgement, of understanding, of oversight.

In our reading from Ephesians we are reminded that  he is above all things, in authority over all powers , all people, that God’s great power that raised him from the dead works in and through him. Such amazing authority.

On a day like today we could be forgiven for thinking that Christ as King is distant from us, that he stands only in judgement, in authority and power.

But just as today we remember Jesus as king in glory, we also recall the thing that is different – that makes him so different from any human king or leader or boss;

He is not an unapproachable King, or one who is detached and remote,

He’s not someone we can only aspire to be in relationship with, to know or be known by as we might with a human authority figure.

Because the same Jesus who is King of all the earth,

was also the baby in a manger, whose arrival we begin already to anticipate in the coming weeks

He is King and he is Immanuel – God with us

He is Lord of all and he is our brother.

He is Judge of the world, and he is Jesus; God come among us, Word made flesh, walking with us.

He is human, and he is almighty God.

And because of both these things, because of his death, and the resurrection by God’s mighty power as Paul puts it,

we can be close to him, without queuing or jostling or hanging round at the water fountain.

We are known and we know  because he is both human and divine.

In being both King of all  and human he ushered in the start of a kingdom that is like no other.

The Kingdom of Jesus is no ordinary hierarchical structure – despite being called a Kingdom, and having a King.

The Kingdom of God, of Jesus the King, is built on the radical foundation that a King can become the simplest most vulnerable member of his own Kingdom

The Kingdom is upside down, topsy turvy

The idea of what authority and power mean are challenged

In the Kingdom of Jesus, they mean being merciful and inclusive, welcoming all and turning no one away. They mean paying the late comers the same as the all dayers, and forgiving the son who ran off with the money.

They mean inviting everyone to the party, and making them all part of the family.

The power & authority in the Kingdom of Jesus lies in putting it all down, giving it all up – being prepared to be last even when you could have been first. They lie in death first, then resurrection. They lie in the manger, the cross and the empty tomb.

Leadership here is about letting go of what you want, and walking with those you lead, understanding what they need.

Love and care here is for everyone, recognising the greatest in the least, and the least in the greatest, understanding that what we do we do for everyone – including the King

These are the values on which the Kingdom of Jesus is built.

The values on which that illustration of judgement are based.

What ever you do for the least, you do for him because He *is* the least.

They are not simply representative – Jesus became human, he became poor and hungry, naked and imprisoned.

Everyone is made in his image, because he became like us.

Today we are reminded that Christ is King, with all the authority of God, all the power and all the strength, King of heaven & King of our lives, yesterday, today and forever.

but in the amazing way of the Kingdom, he is human, alongside us, walking with us,

In the weeks ahead we anticipate that closeness, that presence as we wait for his coming as a human baby,

And we look too to his coming as Christ the King in Glory at the end of time as we know it., when we too shall be in glory with our King.

Both/ And, King and brother, Lord and baby

God with us, God for us

King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – Hallelujah! Amen

Grace 2

Posted in sermons with tags , , , , on September 27, 2014 by fibrefairy

this one is for tomorrow – twice at another church in the same team. I really didn’t intend so much overlap from last week , but there it is…!  ( and another Sara Miles quote too!  (if you haven’t read her stuff..why not? read it!)

Trinity 15 year A

The Parable of the Two sons
recording of sermon for Trinity 15a
Politicians and children often have something in common, when faced with a question they don’t want to answer they do their darndest  to wriggle out of it – they ask a different on, say something unrelated.. you know the scene!

Jesus didn’t always give a straight answer to questions either, but rather than being evasive he tended to turn the spotlight back on the questioner & their motives often with powerfully uncomfortable results!

In our Gospel today Jesus has been challenged by the chief priest and the elders, they’re, as always trying to catch him out, they want to trip him up, probably to catch him out on a blasphemy charge, or some other violation of the Jewish law.

They want to out him as a radical and a heretic.  So they ask him in whose authority does he teach.

Jesus isn’t daft – if he said God’s then he’d be hauled off on the grounds he was usurping authority; if he said his own, far worse, that would be blasphemy too.

But Jesus doesn’t answer –instead he asks them a question – what about John?  Where was his teaching from?  and they realise they’ve been had again. Caught in their own net of rules and expectations.

Jesus doesn’t persist with the authority theme though, instead he talks right into the root of the problem, telling the parable of the two sons.

He doesn’t elaborate, or waste words, but simply says to these religious leaders ,

“tax collectors & prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God before you”

That would have hit them right between the eyes. Jesus has picked two of the most reviled and despised   jobs in society tax collectors were enemy collaborators,  who cheated their country men  for their own gain,  and prostitutes were considered lowest of the low, unclean, unworthy, unredeemable.

These outcasts were entering the kingdom of God, the life and presence  of  God among us??

How very dare he suggest such a thing?

But what Jesus said , shocking and radical as it was, and indeed is, is the truth,

For these religious leaders were blind, so tied up in their notions of respectability and right-ness

So concerned for their reputations and their rules,

They worked  on the basis of who was in & out,

Outcasts were essential to their ways of thinking because outcasts define the centre,  without outcasts,

well it would be unthinkable, everyone would be included.

They’re whole world view was built on

“we know we’re right because they’re so wrong”

WRONG says Jesus,

What’s happening here is that the religious leaders are missing the point

Missing the point of what the Kingdom of God is all about

For the Kingdom of God is not a country or a structure with borders and passports

It’s not a Kingdom  with an immigration policy that wants to legislate  about who is in or out, who belongs or who doesn’t.

The Kingdom of God is about grace, undeserved love, mercy forgiveness from God to all of us

Grace flows from  Jesus  incarnate -God with us, the Word made flesh, present with us.

Grace flows from  the cross and  from the empty tomb.

Grace is radical, generous and yes, frankly offensive.

It offends our notions of right & wrong,  it offends our comfortable status quo, it offends our walls our barriers and our insistence on in & out, worthy and unworthy.

God is merciful without reason,  his love is for everyone, saint, sinner Archbishop, drag queen everyone.

Radical mercy disrupts the mentality of  centre & outcast, it blows it open

Sara Miles says

“ Jesus keeps making the point that salvation doesn’t depend on worldly status or even on religious observance. In a whole series of stores Jesus demonstrates that God deliberately chooses the stranger, the outcast the foreigner, the sick the unclean  – in short the Wrong people – to show the scope of his love”

And we find that hard.

Tucked up in our churches, feeling like perhaps we’ve got this sorted.  We know what we believe and what we’re doing.. and yes if we’re honest we know that a bit because of the people out there – the people we’re not.

And yet Jesus says to us too “you’re missing the point”  it’s not about all this, it’s about Grace, and its free and it’s for everyone,

And we struggle –

Because we’ve made it comfortable, and static, and we don’t much like change or mess.

Rachel Held Evans , a Blogger & Theologian writes “

I don’t like the idea of God using people and methods I don’t approve of and yet that seems to be God’s favorite way of working in the world—outside my expectations, right where I’m prejudiced, against all my rules.”

My rules, our rules aren’t what matters.

What God is doing is what matters and he is working in whom so ever he chooses, not to our direction, or preference but because he offers his grace freely to us all.

And we all need it, we’re all sinners. There’s no centre and no outcast, we’re all the same – in need of God’s grace. We cannot dictate what God does because we’re the ones needing that mercy and forgiveness, as much as the next person, and the next and the next..

The glorious thing about Grace is that we can just say yes to it,   open our hearts and our eyes to what God is doing,  ask for his mercy and join in with what he’s doing – wherever it is.

As we experience the radical grace & mercy  of God we’re called  out of  being  like the second son, lip service and no action,  into being like that first,  changing our mind, admitting our failures and  going off gladly to do our Father’s work.

Let us pray for an experience of that transforming grace in our lives and communities.

Amen

 

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