Sermon thoughts for everyday discipleship
Sunday 24th November 2013
CHRIST THE KING
Colossians 1:11-20 and Luke 23:33-43
C.S. Lewis who died 40 years ago on the 22nd November 1963 famously wrote these words about faith:
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Faith is something which changes the way we see things and people and on this day in which the Church celebrate the Kingship of Christ we have two readings which is about how we see reality. Foe these words reflect a truism - we become what we see.
The Gospel shows us the scene of the crucifixion and and the mocking title given on the cross ‘The King of the Jews’ which for Luke becomes the description of the man on the cross. The King is not like the puppet Herod. This King is not like the Governor Pilate - this King is the one who gives up himself for the sake of others. But we also see the two men either side - one whose eyes see Jesus for who he is. This man has his eyes opened and mentions those immortal words ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom”. His depth of perception stands in contrast to the blindness of the crowd. Faith begins in the man before the promise of paradise is given. How he sees Jesus brings the change in his, albeit shortened life. The place of hell becomes a meeting place of heaven. A place of reconciliation at a personal level as well as a cosmic level. (Col 1.20)
Paul reminds his readers that there has been a radical shift in the way we relate to the world. We have been ‘rescued’ from the kingdom of darkness to live in the kingdom of the Son. (Col 1.13). We are still very much in the world, but the way we exist in it is the key. The Kingdom of God is something which has claim on us in a world, where, even though all things were created through him and for him, does not recognize him. There is a shift in the way we as a Church are called to live out the values of the kingdom - we being his body. The universal King reigns in the world through the lives of those who follow him. The world may not see him, but we see him. And the challenge comes to us - how will they see? They will this King of Love by the lives we, his followers, live.
So how do we see the world? As a place of sin and darkness or a place of possibilities where the Kingdom fruit has yet to be seen? How do we see the Church? Riven with a division and weakness or the Body of Jesus where we become redefined and made whole? How do we see ourselves? Small and insignificant or a called to be part of the new creation God is bringing?
Seeing things in new light is part of our faith. Seeing past the shadows and lies of a world gone wrong to a world that can be whole, full of justice, righteousness and peace. How do we do this? By being ‘trained to see’ as Stanley Hauerwas says (Vision and Virtue p.1). By living in the narrative of the Gospel. By having lives shaped by Scripture. By living lives in the power and life of Jesus.
John is the Vicar of St Paul’s, Tupsley and St Andrews, Hampton Bishop in Hereford Diocese. He’s also currently doing Doctoral Studies at Kings College London.