In the name of the
Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Please be seated.
I. In this Gospel passage Jesus
is on the cross dying and it says he forgave the people and then it says: “There was also an inscription over him, ‘This
is the King of the Jews.’” (Lk 23:33ff)
Officially killed by the Romans who felt they were the ones in charge
& all opposition was to be crushed. But actually killed by people who did not like the type of kingdom
Jesus stood for. A kingdom that embraces forgiveness.
Jesus did have royal blood, one of his ancestors had been King David. And
the Jewish people were waiting for a Messiah – an anointed king to restore the Kingdom of Israel. They
wanted Jesus to fit that model to be a king like David.
But God’s chosen people did not always have kings -- it is important
to realize that in fact God was opposed to having kings (1 Sam 8).
Before human kings God was the king – and there were to be no others.
And God realized that by
demanding a human king the people were rejecting God altogether at that point.
You see in the Ancient Near East there had been family
tribes – but banding together for strength against the elements and protection from enemies. There
would be a leader or great lord over a whole region. If a new tribe entered the area, the lord could initiate
an agreement or covenant to incorporate them into the community. This covenant would spell out the duties
of the new people and what they could expect of their lord – it was a covenant relationship.
This is the image the early Israelites had of God – as a great
generous lord who owned the whole of earth. Everything was the Lord’s – the people owed everything they had to
the Lord. If they were to reject the Lord and wander off on their own, or joined a different band, they
had cut themselves off from the Lord’s protection.
and faithful subjects had been invited by the lord into a partnership and worked for the good of the whole kingdom.
They were loyal and willing to stand in battle with their lord whom they loved. When they
were in trouble they could call upon the lord to save them.
Jesus came as a king, as the son of God the Father who had been recognized as the true
king long ago. Jesus’ focus was restoring the trusting and loyal relationship with God and God’s kingdom.
– Not the kingdom of Israel exactly – but the kingdom of Yahweh – the Kingdom of God.
[DIALOG? – or present this information]
What was Jesus’ concept
of Kingdom? How did he encourage the people to relate to each other? What type of kingdom was Jesus proclaiming
to be at hand? [Thoughts? Ideas?]
- Jesus taught about love – love God + neighbor, and forgiveness
- Jesus healed people, a re-creation
of health and wholeness which brought people back into the kingdom community
- Jesus sent disciples also out to do these things to enlarge the
get the idea. Recap) And:
- Jesus established new covenant, a new kingdom where God’s will would be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
- Jesus himself stood up and fought those who tried to limit God’s relationship with the people
- He debated
with opposing forces
although it appeared he was losing the battle he called upon the father for reinforcement
- And the Resurrection shows who
has the ultimate power and glory
- Jesus then engaged the Holy Spirit to assist the early Community
- For strength and support during
- To help them
spread this Good News of God’s kingdom of love and forgiveness throughout the world
And today we still use these symbols of King and Kingdom.
What we have here looks very much like
a throne room:
- Lectern where pronouncements are proclaimed – the words of the Lord.
- Plates to collect the contributions,
tithes or royalties
- A chair in the center like a throne. (Fr. Don is a fellow traveler –
still sometimes his role is to sit in for Jesus)
- Attendants and servants. Regal attire.
- The Altar – The covenantal agreement was ratified by a sacrifice
and then the people shared a life-giving meal -- both symbols - death and life - celebrate the new union or relationship
- Banners to
help people see their comrades in the thick of things
- And there are others…
- But over all of this is the cross. Jesus crucified as
King trying to lead us back to a solid relationship with a loving and merciful God and each other. Reestablishing
God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus was teaching us to be in partnership with God - sent out two by two
- empowered by the Holy Spirit.
And so here we are before the cross. How can we today acknowledge and commit ourselves to Jesus
Christ as King? A king who stands for, and is embodied in, love.
- Initially this commitment is recognized in baptism through
the baptismal covenant. An agreement to partner with God in doing the work of the kingdom.
An agreement to believe, to study, to fellowship, to pray, to repentance, to proclaim, to be an example, to seek and
serve, to love neighbor as self, to strive for justice and peace, and to respect everyone’s dignity. Things we can only
do with God’s help.
Today we can show
this commitment again through a specific symbolic gesture of belief, trust and loyalty in a short ancient ritual
I will show you. I invite you to use it here with me today to renew your committed to Jesus as King.
Open your BCP to page 302 – this is part of the baptism ritual.
Look half way down the page and you will find the renunciations and dedication. We will take the
time to reject all of those things that pull us away from following Jesus or from partnering with God. In
early church times evil was attributed to spiritual forces, so you see some of that language. But focus
now on what draws you away from God. What distracts you from union and doing what is right?
Is it a wicked temper? Is it wasting time? Is it a negative attitude? What do
you need to reject in order to concentrate more fully on following God’s call to you? In
the ancient church these negative things were considered darkness and evil – and were symbolized by the west –
where the sun set and darkness followed. To the east came the sunrise. So in the early
church, the baptism ritual itself often took place in the very early morning. Starting in darkness the people would face west
and hold up their hands to reject those things of the darkness. And then as the sun was rising
they would turn to the east and pledge themselves to following Jesus. You can see this
turning in the fourth question. “Do you turn to Jesus Christ…?”
So for the first part, as I ask the questions and you respond, we will face toward the back
with our hands raised “stop” against those things that we have identified as negative. God will be at our back,
backing us up, covering us. No matter what you are going through Jesus understands and will be standing
with you in battle. Then, as we begin the fourth question I will invite you to turn around to face the
cross and commit yourself to Jesus. When you do this consider -- Where do you stand? With
whom do you stand? What is your posture before the king – you might wish to stand proud and tall,
presenting yourself for duty OR you might wish to reach out in a gesture of “What can I do to help?”
Let us begin. Please rise (if you are able) and
follow along in your book (page 302).
Now face to the
back and raise your hands against those things that keep you from God …. Answer loud and clear.
Question Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against
Question Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures
Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?
Answer I renounce them.
Now turn and
face the cross. Present yourself to the king.
Question Do you
turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your Savior?
Answer I do.
Question Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Answer I do.
you promise to follow and obey him as your Lord?
“May you be made strong with all
the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully
giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He
has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption,
the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:11-14). Amen.
You may be seated.