Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Christ the King WED 2018 Purpose
Christ the King WED, 28 November 2018
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
1 He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2 A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3 He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7 All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9 Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”
Why are we here? Why are you here? That is the question, no matter what Hamlet says. We have lots of answers and responses to that question. We as a church have an answer to that. You may have an answer to that. I may, too.
Jesus had an answer to that, and he had to fight constantly to avoid mission creep, that tugging by people often with the best of intentions to take what is and add to it. “Could we just…” and then fill in the blank. Knowing what one is here to do, and what it will take and making it happen is a hard and lifelong journey.
From the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer:
...the universe is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it. Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe? A. It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God's purposes. Q. What does this mean about human life? A. It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.
Zaccheus knew his place. He was a swindler and a cheat. He knew he was despised, but he had heard about how this teacher offered something different, something new. Even the despised were allowed into the presence of this new teacher, teaching with a different authority. So he climbed the Sycamore tree, just to catch a glimpse. That is all he wanted, all he hoped for or could expect.
Then the unthinkable happened. The wee little man who knew better than to risk asking people to be nice to him was singled out, was recognized, and given an opportunity to be in on this new thing. The teacher said: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” And through that event, transformation was possible.
You see, we are Zaccheus, too. Where we fall short, when we try to put ourselves higher up, when we separate ourselves from our brothers and sisters, when we go home alone, Jesus meets us wherever we are, however we are, and lifts us up. From today’s Ephesians reading: “[God] chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Why are you here, Jesus? “[I] came to seek out and to save the lost.” Singular in his focus, he let nothing deter or distract him. He came to find you. He came to find me… “to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us.”
There is a reason why we call a humble carpenter king. He who wrote no book, who led no army, who was buried in a borrowed tomb, there is a reason why after 2,000 years we are still amazed by grace.