By The Very Rev. Sherry Crompton
November 22, 2009 (Christ the King Sunday)
Read: John 18:33-37; Revelation 1:4b-8
Well, it’s the last Sunday in the season of Pentecost and next week we begin the season of Advent. Advent is the beginning of the church calendar year. Today is a Sunday of endings and new beginnings. Today is also traditionally known as Christ the King Sunday. Christ the King – another contrast. A contrast between what we tend to view as an exalted position – that of king; and the reality of who Jesus was and is. It is a Sunday that calls us to reflect on our own identity as well as just who we say and know Jesus to be.
In John’s gospel Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus answers: “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” And later Pilate asks him again, “So you are a king?” and Jesus responds “You say that I am a king”.
Here is a similar, brief story that might help shed more light.
An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved, and whether he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior?
The gentleman replied, “Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here are the names of my banker, my grocer, and my farm hands. Ask them if I’ve been saved.”
Or this: Say a non-Christian asks, “What is truth?” We can say anything, but if our lives do not reflect our belief then our words are empty. Do we smile at those in desperate situations and say, “God loves you”, then walk away and leave them to figure out what the heck that means? Or do we use our resources to express that love in a tangible way so they can experience the kingdom of truth?
Jesus could tell Pilate anything. What is important is what Pilate believes. Jesus continues: “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.”
Truth. Jesus came into this world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to Jesus’ voice.
In this conversation with Pilate, Jesus was attempting to get Pilate to listen to that truth that was deep within him. Pilate already sensed that Jesus shouldn’t be crucified, yet in the end, he did turn Jesus over. His actions expressed his fear that if he didn’t do this, he would lose his power, his control. Pilate didn’t trust that knowledge, that truth, that was already deep inside him. And often, we don’t either.
There is an interesting story about Soul Songs in Africa. Something to think about when we consider our relationship with God, Jesus and each other – the power of a relationship bound in respect for others and love for fellow human beings. Soul Songs.
“When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few women friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavor and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.
When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child’s song to him or her. Later, when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child’s song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song. Finally, when the soul is about to pass from this world, the family and friends gather at the person’s bed, just as they did at their birth, and they sing the person to the next life.
In the African tribe, there is one other occasion upon which the villagers sing to the child. If at any time during his or her life, the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around them. Then they sing their song to them. The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, it is LOVE, and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song, you have no desire or need to do anything that would hurt another.
That soul song is our truth, it is our identity which is grounded in the knowledge and love of God. It is our connection with Christ the King who is the Alpha and the Omega (the beginning and the end); the One who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Are we willing to stand up for what we believe is the Truth—that love and life are stronger than might and death?
Do we believe that?
Do we believe that enough to remain passionately loyal to Jesus?
Do we believe that enough to follow Jesus—the One who went to his death, knowing the final outcome would be life: his own life, and life for all the world—including you and me?
A friend is someone who knows our song and sings it to us when we have forgotten it.
May God grant us the grace to hear our own soul song, to hear our truth, to know THE Truth, Jesus. Amen.
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