Monday, November 26, 2012

First Cup—"Christ the King"

Lectionary reflection • November 19-25

These words were written for and published in the annual Fall Connectionary booklet for the Mt. Scott Church of God.

I remember the first time I read Job with some understanding. Reaching the end of what felt like a series of interminable circular arguments, God showed up. God showed up and said to Job: Stand up like a man and answer my questions. Job got a pretty thorough shaking down and straightening out. The outcome was confession: “I yield, repenting in dust and ashes.” The lections for last week feel very much like that. Sunday was “Christ the king” Sunday. Sometimes called “Reign of God” Sunday, it is the last Sunday of the liturgical year; the calendar closes and we turn to Advent, readying ourselves for the arrival of a Baby—and anything else God has in mind.

On this last Sunday, God shows up and he shows up in all God’s “godness”—lest we forget Who God is: ancient of days, enthroned in fire, robed, girded in might, in the clouds, Alpha and Omega.

And, finally, in the gospel reading, Jesus stands before Pilate—the ultimate confrontation between apparent power and apparent weakness, between ultimate earthly (Pilate is Rome) and ultimate godly power (Jesus is God). Jesus says to Pilate: King is your word.

In some ways, the Bible is a failed book; it attempts to frame the un-frameable, name the un-nameable, and describe the indescribable. So, we have to pay close attention as it struggles to help us see. In this moment, we ask, if king is the wrong word, what is Jesus’ word? The earthly category—“king”— is meaningless; earthly definitions of power are pointless. What stands before you, Pilate, is something beyond your ken—God stands before you and God stands before us. Rather, we stand before God. It is not a question of what: The one stands before Pilate—and us—is the same one who stood before Job: creator, judge, redeemer, God Almighty, Creator God.

King is Pilate’s word; what is your word?

Lord God, help me to never see you as less than you are, help me to understand who you are, and help me to ever seek to live as a child of the Creator God of the universe. Help me to never be confused about who I serve. Amen.

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