Sermon – Christ the King
Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Creator and Jesus Christ, our Lord and King. Amen.
Today is the festival of Christ the King. It is the end of the church year. Next week we begin Advent and the new church year.
What does it mean to say Christ is King? What does it mean to say Jesus Christ is Lord?
Luther suggested that we are always worshipping a host of false gods. Because Christ is King, these false gods are not king.
- Because Christ is king – you are not.
- Because Christ is king – Caesar is not
- Because Christ is king – Money is not.
- Because Christ is king – I am not.
- Because Christ is king – sin and death are not.
Because Christ is King – You are not king.
No offense, but this means that I don’t answer to you. I answer only to God. I am freed from doing the things that are done just to please people. I don’t have to ask myself who will be angry at my decisions. I am going to answer to God for my actions, not you. The good news is that you don’t answer to me either.
We don’t need to answer to others and do what they say. How many times have you heard your parents say, or said to your kids, “If someone asked you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?” We need to claim Christ as our moral compass, not blindly follow orders from other people.
Marva Dawn, in her book, The Unnecessary Pastor, says that we need to remember whose servants we are. We need to realize that the only things that are necessary are the things God wants us to do. Anything else is unnecessary. What that means for us as a church is that we base our decisions on what God is calling us to do, not what the person with the loudest voice wants.
Because Christ is King – Caesar is not king.
In New Testament times, saying Christ was king and not Caesar was what got Christians crucified. Remember the sign over Jesus’ cross? King of the Jews?
In our time, the government is Caesar. We can say we love our country, but our first love is Christ and allegiance to Christ must take priority. Our true citizenship is in heaven. We are part of one billion Christians in God’s kingdom here on earth, most of whom are not in North America or even in Europe. The fastest growing churches are in Africa.
When Caesar is not king, we put the needs of the world ahead of the needs of our country, remembering that God loves the whole world, not just people who live where we live and look like us.
To say Christ is king is to stand up and speak against hatred and violence and injustice wherever they are found. It is to work for immigration reform that supports families and helps keep them together. It is to support the bridge prison ministry of our synod that helps people return to society with dignity.
It is to advocate with our elected representatives and to pray for the members of the super committee who will be making huge decisions about our economy, asking that they preserve programs that are a safety net for the elderly and provide for the poor and promote peace.
Because Christ is King, you are not, Caesar is not.
Because Christ is King – Money is not and business is not.
In our capitalistic society many people are addicted to money. Most people believe they would be happier if they just had even 10% more money. Studies don’t bear that out though. People with 10% more money than you aren’t any happier than you are. They believe that they still need 10% more to be happier.
Money is like a bad drug for us sometimes. Most people who win lotteries end up broke. Most people who get a large inheritance have spent it all in eighteen months. The average time from getting an inheritance to getting a new car is eighteen days.
Money is not king, so business is not king, either. Multinational corporations are not king, despite the fact that their money gives them the ability to buy political power.
When we proclaim Christ is King and money and business are not king, we are free to use our resources to help others. We do this in many ways through the ministries of our church. We advocate with our political leaders to continue to support programs that help needy families. And we provide a place for the WIC program here in our building.
Through our benevolence to the synod and ELCA we support programs that reduce poverty. We give micro loans to women who can start their own businesses, help support their families, and afford to send their children to school. We are working to eliminate malaria. We are sharing the good news of the gospel through the work of nearly 250 missionaries in over fifty countries.
We have started sixty new mission centers this year and are renewing 163 congregations. We are developing the faith life of young people from preschool through seminary at over 2000 educational institutions, including Midland University here in Nebraska.
We are developing the faith life of our children and youth though our network of outdoor ministries including Carol Joy Holling where we send our confirmation students every year.
Because Christ is King, you are not, Caesar is not, money and business are not.
Because Christ is King, I am not. If Jesus is Lord, I cannot be. I am dethroned.
Sin has been defined as turning in on oneself. Because Christ is king, then I am not the center of the universe and the world does not revolve around me. When we proclaim Christ the king, we allow our world to revolve around Christ.
Christ explains how we do that in today’s parable. When we feed and clothe the poor and hungry, take care of the sick, welcome the stranger, and visit the imprisoned we are serving Christ our king. We are making Christ our King the center of our universe, not ourselves.
Because Christ is King, you are not, Caesar is not, money is not, and I am not.
And finally, because Christ is king, sin and death are not.
Through his death and resurrection, Christ has defeated the final enemies. Our sins have been nailed to the cross. We no longer need to fear death. We are freed to live as servants of the ruler of heaven and earth. We’re freed from bondage to ourselves, each other, Caesar, money, and anything else that enslaves us.
Christ the king loves us and comes to us in the form of neighbors we are blessed to serve. Go, give generously, welcome openly, serve unselfishly as servants of Christ the King. And we will inherit the kingdom that he has prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Amen.
Many thanks to Bishop Michael Rinehart, gulfcoastsynod.org for the outline and ideas in this sermon.