Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King: Loved, protected, cradled, connected

Lectionary: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 95:1-7a; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

En el nombre del Dios, Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

Note: Story of my first interview here at Redeemer by the vestry – in the Main Parish Hall. Tour of our amazing kitchen… Q: “Who are you feeding?” A: No one.

It was clear, a little over two years ago, that the talent given to Redeemer (as we heard last week in the parable of the talents) had been buried. During its time of wounding, Redeemer had to look inward – to protect and preserve all that was good and holy about this part of the body of Christ - and it did a beautiful job of that. Even in the midst of the wounding, there was a closeness, a sense of family here at Redeemer.

As often happens, though, this closeness became clique-ish over time. Once there was no longer any threat of harm, the means used here to cope and survive a difficult moment in our history had become dysfunctional - stealing the life it was originally employed to preserve.

But then God offered renewal and rebirth. Now Redeemer is putting our gifts to use and producing many talents for the King. Now we are answering Christ’s call to feed the hungry, satisfy those who thirst, clothe the naked, visit those imprisoned by sin or suffering, and welcome the stranger.

We do this through our various missions and ministries: The Shepherd’s Table and Food Pantry, our relationship with the Boys and Girls Club, Operation Christmas Child (serving poor children in our area) Operation Santa Claus (serving those in our community with mental illness), our Red Cross Blood drives, AA and Al-Anon (serving those imprisoned by the disease of addiction) our Prayer Shawl and Rosary ministries, Christian formation, our liturgies and liturgical ministries, and more…

We are a church. We are a reflection of the fullness of Christ who is all in all - which is what KING means for us. Christ the King is the ultimate authority, the one who loves, rescues, feeds, comforts, and commands us to do the same.

We gather today to worship our King and share Holy Communion. And we have been given the great gift of blessing the civil marriage of Brian and Larena Cherry, and consecrating it as a holy union, a covenant.

The covenant of marriage is for us a witness of the kind of bond Christ has with us – the church: an intimate, loving, self-sacrificing bond in which the other matters most. These two reflect in their marriage union our identity as a church family our identity as people of God. We too are called to be intimate, loving, self-sacrificing and to make the least of those among us matter most.

Dar Williams (one of my favorite indy artists is as I’ve mentioned before) describes this living, flowing bond of love, like this: “If you're lucky you'll find something that reflects you, helps you feel your life, protects you, cradles you, and connects you to everything.” (Dar Williams, “Hudson” Album: My Better Self)

Now THAT is church… and that is what Redeemer is strong on becoming. We don’t shy away anymore from the fullness of life – we feel it! The good and the bad! We can do that because we know we are protected in the love we have for one another - love that is grounded in our Redeemer. This love, manifest in the body, the church, cradles us, strengthens us, and connects us to everything else in creation; to everything that went before, is now, and will come to pass.

We are a church. Holy, consecrated, and ready to risk it all to find and serve the least among us using every gift we’ve been given in order to do that.

After our service we’re going to meet downstairs for our Ministry Fair and lunch. We’ll also be packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child and our Youth will be making Christmas cards which they will sell next week at our Advent Festival in order to raise money for their mission work. We will also have our Stewardship in-gathering, collecting the pledges of our tithes that will support our work as church in the coming year.

It is my prayer, as we prepare for our new year together (which begins next week – Advent 1), that we break ourselves open and widen our walls, so that we might be the kind of church that truly and actively welcomes all…

so that God might rescue the scattered sheep of our fold and restore them to us (as promised in Ezekiel)…

so that God might continue to build us up with new family who are looking for a place where they can be loved, protected, cradled, and connected…

so that we might have that many more hands, that many more hearts, that many more gifts to use to answer Christ’s command to serve the least, inside and outside our gates, who are members of our family.

Then when we come to our time of our judgment, we can run joyfully into the arms of Christ our King who will say to us with a warm smile, and open arms: “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” Amen.


Cleaner said...

Wow and amen!

Cleaner said...

Wow and amen that is the church!