A Sermon For Christ the King Sunday, Year C

Copyright © 2007 Nathan L. Bostian

Based on Jeremiah 23:1-6, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:35-43

Not so long ago, in a suburb not so far away, there lived skater-punk, who rode around on his well worn skateboard, with hair in his eyes, a concert t-shirt, ripped up jeans, half destroyed converse shoes, and something between a smirk and a sneer constantly glued on his face.

And if you looked close at his skateboard, or his shoes, or his jeans, or his notebooks, or the back of his hand, you would see scrawled a circle with an "A" in the middle of it:

The international punk rock sign for ANARCHY.

And I can tell you so much about this skater-punk kid because he was, of course, me. And I loved the idea of "anarchy"! No religion, no rules... No master. No one to tell me what to do. Nothing to "conform to".

My motto was sung by Sid Vicious of the infamous band the "Sex Pistols" in their hit song "Anarchy in the U.K.":

"I am an antichrist! I am an anarchist!

Don't know what I want but... I know how to get it!
How many ways to get what you want...
I use the best, I use the rest"

And then, quite to my surprise, I noticed something: That cool haircut I had was the same as all my friends. And those hip, trendy, ripped up clothes were exactly like what all the skaters in the magazines wore. And there was evidently enough interest in my subversive punk-rock underground music that it kept whole record stores and record labels in business.

In short, I was, to use a phrase of Pink Floyd, "just another brick in the wall". All of us anarchist non-conformist skater kids were just affluent suburbanites conforming to the same non-conformity... which was ruled by an invisible consumerism.

Our own prophet Bob Dylan summed it up like this (using words incredibly similar to Saint Paul in Romans):

"You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

There really is no such thing as anarchy. There is never even such a thing as non-conformity. Even when we react against something, we are allowing what we dislike to form us and shape us by making us the opposite, mirror image of itself.

We may think we are serving ourselves, and living for ourselves, but that is not even true either. We were made to need things. We were made to worship Something. What we choose as our object of ultimate value is in fact what becomes our God, our Master, and our King.

If we think we are serving ourselves, by choosing to do whatever gives us pleasure and makes us feel good, then we soon find that we are addicted to that which we need for pleasure. What used to make us happy is no longer enough. We need more, different, and better "stuff" to be happy... Until the very thing that made us feel good becomes the thing we hate.

If we think we are serving ourselves, by choosing to do whatever makes us a success, then we soon find that we are enslaved to the very conditions of success we have defined for ourselves. Perhaps we are enslaved to the people we want to impress, or to the money and lifestyle that goes with success. Soon we find ourselves ruled by fear: Abject fear that we will loose what we have gained, and we must protect ourselves at all costs.

These are just two ways we enslave ourselves in the foolish attempt to be our own masters. I could count hundred more. We enslave ourselves by wanting to be wanted, and needing to be needed. We enslave ourselves to our lifestyle. We enslave ourselves to our pride, our prejudice and our fear.

We enslave ourselves to what we worship, to what we place as our ultimate value in life. Because we BECOME what we WORSHIP.

So we find ourselves back at the visionary words of prophet Bob:

"You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

So, who are you gonna serve?

Who are you gonna worship?

What is your object of ultimate value?

What do you want to become?

Instead of celebrating anarchy, or any of the powers and prince-palities that masquerade behind the illusion of self-centered anarchy, to deny, distort, demean, and destroy our lives, Today the Church celebrates a totally different kind of "archy".

Today, we celebrate "Christarchy". We celebrate the Kingship, rule, and dominion of the ONLY King that truly sets us free: Christ the King.

That is why today is called "Christ the King" Sunday.

What is a King? A King is One who has authority in a Kingdom.

The word King in American ears has imperial overtones. It reminds us of iron-fisted dictators who march armies into war to conquer and enslave helpless people. But we forget that in our own day, it is iron-fisted western consumerism that has, in the name of freedom, enslaved far more people, and steam-rolled far more cultures, than any national King ever has.

But Jesus deconstructs and reconstructs the whole idea of what it means to be a King, what it means to hold authority, and what it means to have a Kingdom.

FIRST, JESUS IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF KING. We are used to Kings who rule by taking the first place, protecting themselves, and clearly delineating who goes where in the power structure.

Yet, Jesus rules not by putting Himself over all as a Master, but under all as a slave... [ALLOW THE SPIRIT TO SPEAK]

SECOND, JESUS HOLDS A DIFFERENT KIND OF AUTHORITY. We are used to authority coming from the raw use of power to coerce people into making them do what you want. It may be the power of legislation that will send the police to stop what is frowned upon, or it may be the power of economics to withhold money until someone does what you want them to.

Yet, Jesus holds authority on the basis of his perfect Love, not powerful coercion... [ALLOW THE SPIRIT TO SPEAK]

THIRD, JESUS HAS A DIFFERENT KIND OF KINGDOM. We are used to Kingdoms having clearly defined boundaries, and clearly delineated structures, with clear signs that say who is in and who is out.

Yet, Jesus does not rule over a place, but IN a people... [ALLOW THE SPIRIT TO SPEAK]

Listen to what Saint Paul says about Christarchy, about the rule and dominion of Christ the King, in our reading today:

He says that through Jesus, God 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."

Our old addictions and bondages no longer have to rule over us. We no longer have to worship and serve that which brings death and darkness. Instead, we are forgiven and released from all of this, by giving us a new Lord to rule us: King Jesus.

Paul says that Christ is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-- all things have been created through him and for him."

In Christ, the invisible God and Ruler of all became visible. In Christ the untouchable Lord of Creation was able to be touched... And hugged, and kissed, and slapped, and beaten, and crucified, and killed...

And brought back from the dead!

In Christ, God took upon Godself all that it means to be human, with all of the consequences, weaknesses, and suffering that goes along with it. He did not enter into life with us in some abstract way, one step removed from our humanity, only mentally aware of our pain.

No, He took on the fullness of all the joy, and all the pain, of creation into Himself. Then He showed that He alone can rule, control, tame, and transform all of it: Because He rose from the dead, and defeated death by His unstoppable life.

He alone is the King who rules death with life, pain with joy, and darkness with light. And He alone is qualified to be King of all things, and at the Core of all of Reality.

As Paul says "He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

King Jesus is Hub around which all the universe revolves.

King Jesus is the Plot which guides all History to be HIS Story.

King Jesus is the Reason which gives all of life Meaning.

King Jesus is the Score which directs the music of our lives.

It all holds together in Him, by Him, and for Him. In Him it is as if the Painter painted Himself into His own picture. It is as if the Author wrote Herself as a character into Her own book. It is as if the Composer became His own music.

It is "as if" because IT IS. Paul goes on to say: "He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross."

Whether or not we admit it or understand it, we are living in the middle of Christarchy. We are living in the middle of an Epic Drama of a King who has faced down the powers of darkness to restore unto Himself the people He loves.

And the secret is that THIS KING is not only trying to save us, but He is inviting us to join Him in the Epic Struggle as members of His own Body.

So, that is the invitation. Will you join the REAL King, or keep serving (and being enslaved by) false kings? Will you choose anarchy, which is really bondage, or Chrstarchy, which is true freedom?

"You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed

You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

So, I leave the choice with you. Who are you gonna serve? AMEN+
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This is a bunch of stuff to make us think hard about our incredible love affair with the God of the universe, our astounding infidelities against him, and his incredible grace to heal and restore us through Christ. Everything on this site is copyright © 1996-2015 by Nathan L. Bostian so if you use it, cite me... otherwise you break the 8th commandment, and make God unhappy. You can contact the author by posting a comment.