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The Last Sunday After Pentecost (Year C)
In this Bulletin ...
My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today is the Sunday of the year called CHRIST THE KING. Every year, just before Advent we consider Christ as a king and, as a king, we think of him as a shepherd to his people. The image of Jesus as a shepherd king is a pleasing image for most people. We think of Jesus being a bit like King David, we think of him as a great ruler dressed in royal robes watching over us from heaven, we think of him caring for us like a shepherd cares for his sheep:
We think of his rod and staff comforting us, of his leading us to green pastures and quiet waters - and we feel good. Jesus the King, a shepherd king: it is a nice image, a comforting image, a helpful image, an image that many of us hold as our chief image of Jesus.
We all have our own ideas of what royalty is. We also know what royalty should look like. However, none of our ideas reflect God's concept of kingship completely. In Jeremiah's time the people's understanding of kingship was tainted by human kings who had led them to the point of imminent destruction. God spoke of the kings as shepherds who had failed to care for their people. Would a nation scattered and destroyed, left uncared for and afraid, even want God to raise up another shepherd or king for it? Could the people welcome a righteous king?
When we come to Christ the King Sunday, we have to acknowledge that we bring cultural baggage with us. But what happens if we lay our preconceptions to one side and let the readings tell us what a king is? Things begin well. Psalm 46 is not one of the royal psalms that exalt in a human king. Instead, our model for kingship is God. The psalm exhorts us to praise the God who is our refuge and strength, our very present help, our stronghold. God rules creation, and nothing in the world will unseat or unsettle this Lord of Hosts and God of Jacob-ruler of both heaven and earth. These are kingly words of power and might, authority and action. This is a king as we imagine a king should be.
We turn to Luke and the image changes with the scene of shame and powerlessness as the evangelist describes the death of the Son of God, the King of the Jews. Luke gives us a litany of abuse and humiliation: criminals, condemnation, crucifixion, nakedness, scoffing, mocking, taunting, deriding, reviling ... Hardly the stuff of kingship. The only crown mentioned is one of thorns. The jubilation of Psalm 46 is gone, and we are face to face with agony and grief, insults instead of songs and praise.
That missed image is what was played out on the cross with Jesus and the two criminals. One asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. He was looking to a future reign, but Jesus handed out the royal pardon immediately. Jesus was king even on the cross, welcoming people into his kingdom and not waiting until he was crowned in glory. This was simply the culmination of the way Jesus lived: he never dressed as we think a king should, or did things properly by our standards. If we can get over the shock, we will rejoice in this, because this is where the good news lies for people like those of Jeremiah's time, who have known the pain of abandonment and betrayal by their rulers.
God's promise to the people was a king who is righteous, deals wisely, executes justice and righteousness in the land, and enables the people to live securely. In Jesus, God has fulfilled that promise. Justice and righteousness, themes that will recur in Advent, are the hallmarks of Jesus' kingship. The miracle lies in the fact that God shares the potential hopelessness of the human situation, but does so as king, as the source of our hope and life.
We are grateful to those who worked extremely hard to make the Annual Supper held on Friday the success that it was. Thanks also to all of you who came and supported the event and sold tickets. Please make your returns as early as possible so that the Organizing Committee can settle outstanding debts and turn in the income from this fundraising effort.
On Sunday, December 5, 2004 at 8:00 a.m. we will have a Service of Commemoration of our 340th Anniversary. The Celebrant and Preacher will be the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies. We are asking you to prepare for an Act of Renewal and Recommitment on this special occasion. Our theme is RECLAIMING OUR MISSION: To restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.
We extend a warm welcome to all our visitors and if you have no
spiritual home, we invite you to be a part of our fellowship.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Today is CATHEDRAL SUNDAY and our Parish Church will be represented at the Service of Holy Eucharist commemorating the day.
Please remember the Special Service on Sunday, December 5, at 8:00 a.m. to launch the Commemoration of our 340th Anniversary. There will be Holy Eucharist at 6:30 a.m. on that day.
We are invited to join members of the Altar Guild in a clean-up project at the Church on Saturday of this week, November 27, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This is in preparation for the Commemoration Service. THERE IS MUCH TO BE DONE; PLEASE COME OUT AND ASSIST.
You are reminded of Canon Robert Thompson's presentation on the topic of his doctoral thesis: "REDEMPTION SONG - a Theological Hermeneutics for Social Transformation" This takes place in the Church Hall on Thursday, December 2 at 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, November 30 is ST. ANDREW'S DAY and the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 23 is ST. CLEMENT'S DAY and a Service will be held at the St. Clement's Mission, 2 Crescent Road, Kencot at 6:00 p.m.
A Service of Ordination will take place at the Cathedral next Sunday, November 28 commencing at 4:00 p.m. We invite your prayers for Rev. Robert McLean and the other Ordinands.
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What is too easily overlooked is that the Church is the primary agent of mission. So rather than thinking of what we have to preserve, we need to think about what we have to share. We need to move from the maintenance model of being church, which is organized around sustaining, developing and promoting its own life, to the missionary model, which is organized around participating in God's mission in the world to establish his redemptive purposes in the whole of human life.
The Theology of Welcome
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The Last Sunday After Pentecost
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This Week at the Parish Church
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Page last updated: January 1, 2005
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