November 20, 2016

Sermon by the Reverend Christian J. Baron, Last Sunday After Pentecost, “Christ The King,” Year C, Luke 23:33-43

“I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.”
Holy God, we recognize your presence here in this place. We ask that as we crack open this gospel message of your good news, that you may afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

Good morning. Jodi and I spent the past week on vacation. Well, we were on a staycation. The kids still had school. For the most part, I fished and hunted every chance I got. I wish I could tell you I had overwhelming success. But that would be a lie. Instead, I sat in a deer blind…. And I sat on the pier… and I waited for the magic to happen. And I waited and I waited… But no magic. Every time I thought something must be wrong…. I tried a bit harder… I looked more intently…. Was that a deer? Nope… just a squirrel… is that a????? Nope, the same old patch of brown grass…
Or if I was on the pier… “Maybe I am fishing on the wrong side? Maybe I should cast my line on the outside of the arms…. But nobody is fishing over there… well, maybe that’s why nobody is catching fish… I’m gonna try it….” An hour later… “maybe I need to walk down the pier farther… Should I change the bait? Is my leader too long? Did I put enough floats in the spawn bags?”
It seemed like very little of my life endeavors were in my control this week and last.
Even the lectionary was out of my control this week.
Christ the King Sunday kind of snuck up on me.
But I’m glad for it. Partially because I know that Advent and Christmas come next, and partially because I needed to be reminded that Christ is indeed the King .
And I needed to be reminded that the mission of the Church has not changed. Because things are messy right now to say the least.
It is true friends, that this country is anxious.
We are anxious.
Folks on the left and on the right….
Folks in the middle… we are anxious.
And if the election results had been different, I’m not so sure that there would be any less anxiety.
There is a deep distrust between common Americans. Neighbors can read campaign signs and judged one another accordingly. We are a divided people who speak past each other, who don’t understand one another. It is affecting us in so many areas of our lives.
I just read an article on NPR about the rise in doctor visits and the way that doctors have had to help patients chat about their symptoms. The doctors being interviewed said that one of the questions they are having to ask during depression screenings is, “How did you feel before the election?” For many people, this election cycle and the cultural climate has and is… really taking its toll.
I’m honestly not sure how we got to this place.
I’m not sure why, on Thursday, we will walk into the house of a relative… on Thanksgiving… and dread a conversation about politics, or maybe any conversation at all.
And, I’m not sure where to go from here…
I wonder, though… what might happen if we try to remember who we are and what we value… maybe we can be a salve for the hurting… Be a refuge for those who feel lost or angry or hurt.
Maybe if we try to remember that St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is still here.
To remember how we made our way to this parish… whether it was by birth and baptism… or through some other journey to this old pie factory that is St.Philip’s. … However, we got here… we’ve chosen to align ourselves with a particular way of being Christian in the world, and we are here.
As Episcopalians in the Diocese of Western Michigan…
We will remember that it is our job to continue to fight racism… homophobia… misogyny… not only as individuals but together… because it is in our baptismal promises.
We will remember that we need to be a sanctuary for the immigrant and outcast… together… because it is in our baptismal promises.
We will remember that it is our job to strive to bring justice to this planet and to speak truth to sin and waste and consumerism…. Together.
Friends, I am quite aware of just how tall an order that really is, especially today.
I’m thankful for who we are. I’m proud of who we are… as a parish.
I’ll bet you are too.
Because we are a group of Christians, of varying political persuasion… that come together to pray, to consume a mysterious piece of bread and sip of wine… and work for justice in the name of a backward, upside down King.
This King…He was unconventional, to say the least… We have a King that
We have a King who shares his name with us. We have a King who gathers the lost and the least… And because our King wears a crown of thorns… because he has defeated hatred and fear with love… we are called to do likewise.
That’s what incarnation is. God became a human so that we could relate with each other and with God in a new way.
We needed to see flesh on God.
To know that he too suffered and was subject to the limitations of being human.
That he could love like a human.
That Divine love looked the same, even when she put on the skin of a man.
And we were witnesses to the work that he did. Humans witnessed and participated in his execution.
And we have passed down that story from generation to generation to remind them of what happened.
Because of that example… the example of Christ the King, we have been cranking out little disciples who strive for justice. And you and I and St. Philip’s, are direct beneficiaries of those stories.
We are witnesses of a King who passes down his power. Who shares his power.
***And be assured that as followers of a Messiah who was hung on a tree between two criminals…
that St. Philip’s Episcopal Church will be a haven for groups who are targeted and oppressed.
We will continue the work that has been happening here for 60 years and, with your help, go even deeper into the safety of the walls of the Kingdom of God. We will use our facility, our influence, our authority, our relationships, our finances to recognize, affirm and protect all those who bear the image of God. Because what has been shared and entrusted to us… we will freely give back.
May the gospel reach each of us today … where we are at. Christ is King…
Please Turn in your BCP to page 304 as we stand and renew our Baptismal Covenant.
The Baptismal Covenant
Do you believe in God the Father?
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the
I will, with God’s help.
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and , whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
I will, with God’s help.

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