Homily for Christ the King Sunday by The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA
22 Nov. 2015, Proper 29 Year B: 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-13; Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
“Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Jesus encourages us to listen to what he says.
I wonder if Jesus intends for us to recognize the subtle difference between
“to hear” Jesus' voice
“to listen” to Jesus.
The dictionary1 says: Hear means, among other definitions, “to listen to with attention”. Listen means “to hear something with thoughtful attention”.
When we give thoughtful attention to Jesus' voice, we gain insight into God's compelling love & grace. As we give thoughtful attention & follow Jesus, God's love & grace compel us to go & share the Good News:
God loves you. No exceptions. All are welcome.
This is one way we do what our Lord Jesus does: one way we testify to the truth.
On this Christ the King Sunday, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry reminds us: “God came among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth to show us the Way...the Way to life, the Way to love. [Jesus] came to show us the Way beyond what often can be the nightmares of our own devisings & into the dream of God’s intending.”2
We hear & see the nightmares of our own devising in our news. Thinking of the dream God intends, I hear echoes of the 1971 commercial hit song: “I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.” Despite its plug for Coca-Cola, I hear echoes of God's dream when I focus on its “positive message of hope & love” sung by young people from around the world.3
The song's creation came during a forced layover at Ireland's Shannon Airport where tempers had flared. An advertising executive got the idea the next day...as he & colleagues noticed “fellow travelers...talking & joking while drinking Coca-Cola. [On a napkin, the man] wrote the line 'I'd like to buy the world a Coke'...The [ad] ended with [this] statement: "On a hilltop in Italy, we assembled young people from all over the world to bring you the message from Coca-Cola bottlers all over the world. It's the real thing..."4
Maybe Coke is the real thing in your soft drink choice. Beloved Brothers & Sisters, you know Jesus is the real, real thing. We commit ourselves to the real, real thing, who is “the way, the truth & the life”:
Jesus, the King who is a servant, as one priest notes & adds: “[Our servant King is the One who]...comes, teaches, heals, reconciles, dies & rises again, who lives through us & who will return.”5
Listen to his voice – hear with thoughtful attention.
What does life look like when we hear with thoughtful attention when Jesus speaks?
Life looks like people Jesus loves & frees from our sins by his blood, as we read in Revelation.
Life looks like a kingdom of priests – you & I, guided by the Holy Spirit – serving God our Father, the Alpha & the Omega, who is & who was & who is to come, the Almighty.
The Almighty is why Jesus can stand before Pilate & say: “My kingdom is not from this world...I came into the world to testify to the truth.”
To testify to the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit is part of our calling, our work as members of the royal priesthood.
As one priest says: “...We are given the task of mediating between God & humanity & creation. We are God’s agents of reconciliation. At home, work, school, play, in social interactions – even on Facebook – we echo God’s plea, 'Come to me all you who [labor] & are burdened & I will give you rest.' We speak & act...as a priesthood invested with royal authority, a royal status epitomized in servanthood.”6
When we hear with thoughtful attention as Jesus speaks, we can see more clearly how to serve in our work in the royal priesthood.
The priest says: “...[T]he royal priesthood works for justice & mercy, tells of God’s forgiveness & unfathomable love, & lifts up the Cross as the sign & symbol of [Jesus'] redeeming work [& looks] forward in hope to the end times...when...the world will be put right, Eden restored & 'sorrowing & crying will be no more'...”7
I see much sorrowing & crying in the news. I see much hope in human goodness right here in this Beloved Body of Christ, this happening place where we live God's love. I see much hope in human goodness beyond our red doors.
In the news I see much hope in human goodness in the exchange of real hugs, heartfelt hugs, last week in a square in Paris, where a Muslim man blindfolded himself & stood with a sign saying: “I'm a Muslim...I trust you. Do you trust me? If yes, hug me.”
Throughout the day & into the night, person after person of different ages & races hugged the blindfolded man. A woman who spoke after hugging him is Jewish.
God's grace releases us from fear so that we can embrace our brothers & sisters in the human family.
Our Presiding Bishop urges us to remember: Jesus has already gone ahead of us – ahead of you. “Now is our time to go...into the world to share the good news...To go into the world & help to be agents & instruments of God’s reconciliation. To go into the world, let the world know that there is a God who loves us, a God who will not let us go, & that that love can set us all free.”8
Clavier, The Rev. Anthony. “Christ the King, Proper 29 – 2015.” Accessed: 18 Nov. 2015. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2015/11/06/christ-the-king-proper-29-2015/ Note: Author is Vicar of St. Thomas’ Church, Glen Carbon, with St. Bartholomew’s, Granite City, IL and Co-Editor of The Anglican Digest.
Curry, Presiding Bishop Michael. “A Word to the Church from Presiding Bishop Curry.” http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2015/11/04/bulletin-insert-last-sunday-after-pentecost-b/ Accessed: 16 Nov. 2015.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hear. Accessed: 21 Nov. 2015.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/listen. Accessed: 21 Nov. 2015.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'd_Like_to_Teach_the_World_to_Sing_%28In_Perfect_Harmony%29 Accessed: 21 Nov. 2015.
Marquina, Sierra. “Blindfolded Muslim Man in Paris Asks Strangers for Hugs, Trust After Attacks...” 19 Nov. 2015. http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/muslim-man-in-paris-asks-strangers-for-trusting-hugs-after-terror-attacks-watch-w158027 Accessed: 20 Nov. 2015.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 22 July 2015.
2 Curry, Presiding Bishop Michael. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2015/11/04/bulletin-insert-last-sunday-after-pentecost-b/
5 Clavier, The Rev. Anthony. http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/stw/2015/11/06/christ-the-king-proper-29-2015/
6 Ibid. Clavier
8 Ibid. Curry.