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Sunday, November 23, 2014

How to reign from below

My sermon for this week is based on Matthew 25:31-46.

Sorry, no audio this week:)

When I was a child, I used to love to play "King of the Mountain".  The concept of this game was pretty simple: claw your way to the top of a big pile of snow, throw off whoever was on top, and proclaim loudly that you were now the King of the Mountain.

Victory was always short-lived, mind you.  It never took long for someone else to dethrone you unceremoniously.  Even if a sixth-grader got up there and held the mountain for a few minutes, a group of third-graders would form an impromptu alliance, and several of them would mob the sixth-grader off the mountain.

No sooner would their task be completed than this alliance would promptly dissolve, and the third-graders would fall immediately upon one another to try to gain supremacy.

Although loads of fun, this was essentially a game of domination, superiority and power.  The goal was simple, there were no rules, and it was, ultimately, every one for him/herself.

I suspect just about every kid has played some version of this game.  I don't know when or why we stopped playing it, but I am fairly sure that in a very real way, we never really outgrew it.  We just set our sights on other mountains.

The reason I say that is that you cannot tell me we are not still playing one big game of King of the Mountain.  Whether you become king by education, money, power, property, position or brute strength, we are all still trying to claw our way to the summit.

Enter the Reign of Christ Sunday, a day in which we call to mind the kingship, the kingdom and the rule of Christ.

"But wait", you say.  "Jesus was never a king, he never ruled anything".

Quite true, but that is because we are judging kingship in human terms.  In truth, Christ's only crown was thorns, the closest thing he had to a throne was a crucifix and the closest thing he had to a victory march was the long walk to Golgotha carrying the instrument of his death.

Not very regal, is it?

You and I an just about every other person in the world throughout history judge or have judged the success of kings or kingdoms (and by extension our own success) in very real-world terms: do you have a great army?  Do you have luxurious palace?  Do you have lots of land or money in your coffers?  Basically, are you rich and powerful?

How, therefore, can we be audacious enough to claim that Christ was a king?  He was never in a battle, never claimed a country, usurped a throne or sacked a city.  He did not sit high upon a throne and rule from above.

We are audacious enough to claim it because he reigned from below, using different values than the ones the world uses.  Rather than rule through military might, financial, military or political prowess, he ruled through mercy, love, peace, justice, humility and service.

And that is why he is a king.

There are fridge magnets and FB memes out there that I generally cringe at, but which nonetheless ring true.  They run along the lines of "When you die, it will not matter how much money you had in the bank, what kind of car you drive, how nice your house is.  What will matter is who you helped along the way".

Cliche, perhaps, but all too true.  So how do we do what matters?  Are we not entirely inconsequential?  How can one person make a difference in the face of so much need in the world?

The great thing is that the world does not need us to be great generals, politicians, philanthropists or missionaries.  It just needs us to help in our cities and towns, in our neighbourhoods, on our blocks.  The world needs us to reach out to our neighbour.

Remember that the Divine is in everyone you see, and the Divine is within you.  Everyone deserves therefore to be treated as a child of God.

"Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do also to me".

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