NOVEMBER 21, 2021 + CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

PRAYER OF THE DAY

Almighty and ever-living God, you anointed your beloved Son to be priest and sovereign forever. Grant that all the people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united by the glorious and gentle rule of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET DANIEL 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

WE WILL PRAY PSALM 93 RESPONSIVELY

The LORD is king, robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The LORD has made the world so sure that it cannot be moved. Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; you are from everlasting. The waters have lifted up, O LORD, the waters have lifted up their voice; the waters have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea, mightier is the LORD who dwells on high. Your testimonies are very sure, and holiness befits your house, O LORD, forever and forevermore.

A READING FROM THE REVELATION OF JOHN 1:4B-8

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN 18:33-37

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

SERMON

On this Sunday, commemorating Jesus as King, the magnificent readings from Daniel and from Revelation seem as powerful as language can be in expressing the scene that is just beyond our vision; the glory and majesty of Jesus enthroned, his mission completed, our redemption secured.

But suddenly, while still enthralled by that mystic revelation, we are propelled back in time to a scene from Jesus trial before Pilate, just prior to his crucifixion and death. It is here, in this truly terrifying scene, that we witness no choirs of angels, no blinding light of glory, no heavenly atmosphere, but Jesus, already bruised and beaten, starved and thirsty, abandoned and betrayed, suspended between Rome and Israel, the very people he cured and fed and nurtured and to whom he so joyfully proclaimed the Kingdom; his only crown a crude circle of piercing thorns, his scepter a stalk of reeds. And yet, it is in this most vulnerable position, that we witness his royal dignity, his majestic stature, his superior integrity. Here, before the human who has been given the power of life or death over God Incarnate,

Jesus presents himself as King. Here, even as he is condemned, as the crowd shouts “give us Barabbas”, choosing a murderer over a life giver, that he calmly affirms his identity, and meets his destiny with honor. While the frightened and confused Pilate washes his hands of him, Jesus, confident and certain, receives us and all our sins into his already bloody hands. It is here, that Jesus, condemned and sentenced to death, fulfills his mission to secure our eternal life.

A King? Most certainly! The Holy One who sacrifices himself willingly to save us from ourselves.

Even as our Church Year draws to a close, leaving us with visions of both Eternal Life and the King who won it for us, we anticipate once again, the new Church year about to begin, as we enter a new circle of days and dates and seasons that mark our ever-deepening journey to the Center. Amen

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