Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Even after Israel had experienced the vagaries of kings, the people still longed for a true king to set things right. He would have the king’s title of Anointed One (Messiah); he would be the “one like a human being” (Son of Man) given dominion in Daniel’s vision. Jesus is given these titles, even though he is nothing like an earthly king. His authority comes from the truth to which he bears witness, and those who recognize the truth voluntarily listen to him. We look forward to the day he is given dominion, knowing his victory will be the nonviolent victory of love.
Confession and Forgiveness
All may make the sign of the cross, the sign marked at baptism, as the presiding minister begins.
In the name of the Father,
and of the ☩ Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Have mercy on us, O God.
We confess that we have sinned against you
and against our neighbor.
We have built walls instead of tables
and have turned away the stranger.
We have sought glory for ourselves
and have treasured that which does not satisfy.
Help us to love as you love,
to welcome those you send,
and to treasure mercy and justice.
Turn us from our ways to your ways,
and free us to serve those in need. Amen.
God, who makes all things new,
forgives your sins for ☩ Jesus’ sake
and remembers them no more.
Lift up your heads and your hearts.
Yours is the kingdom of God.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and ever-living God, you anointed your beloved Son to be priest and sovereign forever. Grant that all the people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united by the glorious and gentle rule of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
To the community for whom this passage was written, it seemed as though the oppression they were experiencing would never end. Daniel’s message is: It shall end. The Ancient One, who is judge, will call all nations to account and will give dominion to “one like a human being,” the Messiah.
9As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne,
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
10A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.
13As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
14To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.
Psalm: Psalm 93
Ever since the world began, your throne has been established. (Ps. 93:2)
1The Lord is king, robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.
The Lord has made the world so sure that it cannot be moved.
2Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;
you are from everlasting.
3The waters have lifted up, O Lord, the waters have lifted up their voice;
the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.
4Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea,
mightier is the Lord who dwells on high.
5Your testimonies are very sure,
and holiness befits your house, O Lord, forever and forevermore.
Second Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8
The book of Revelation begins by celebrating the Almighty God, who spans all of time. Similarly, Jesus is celebrated as the firstborn from the dead who rules over the world’s rulers. He is the one whose return we eagerly await.
4bGrace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7Look! He is coming with the clouds;
every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Alleluia. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.* Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David. Alleluia. (Mark 11:9)
Gospel: John 18:33-37
In John’s gospel, the story of Jesus and Pilate presents two different ways of exercising power: through force or with love.
33Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
Today is Christ the King Sunday. We often talk about Christ being a king and about his kingdom, but what exactly does that mean? Humans like to have a leader to follow, someone who tell them the right things to do so that they can live a prosperous life. Someone that they feel will protect them and their society. Unfortunately, kings often end up taking advantage of their position to enrich themselves and to enhance their power. In 1 Samuel 8 the prophet says that these are “the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.”
I suppose that the desire for a leader arises from the very human need to belong. In the prison I worked at, several of the inmates needed to belong to something so badly that they joined what we called security threat groups, or gangs as most people would say. Sometimes they did this for protection, sometimes to try to better their position in the prison, but in most cases, it would turn out badly for them. The leader of the gang would have his “soldiers” perform tasks for him, such as having someone bring in drugs for the gang to sell. Usually, this involved getting someone from the inmate’s family to send it in through the mail or bring it in through the visiting room. When they got caught, which they often did, the inmate would be facing new charges and so might their family member. But who benefited from this risk? Usually, it was the gang leader and his close associates. The soldier was merely a pawn to be used and disposed of if it suited the leader’s desires.
But Christ isn’t that type of king and His kingdom will be unlike any we’ve ever seen here on Earth. Jesus had no army, no empire. People called him a king to mock him and to get him in trouble. That title, “king,” is loaded with political meaning for the Romans, who had little tolerance for any king but Caesar. But Jesus does have a kingdom. A kingdom that’s not from this world. A kingdom where hospitality reigns, because when there was not enough food for the gathered crowd, five loaves and two fish became an abundant amount of food. It’s a kingdom where the leaders weep alongside their people out of love for their friends, a kingdom where a woman, scorned by her community and all alone at a well is offered not only conversation, and acknowledgment of her human dignity, but also the living water of eternal life. This is the kingdom that He invites us to join.
I’m always amazed by Christ’s reluctance to proclaim himself as king. In today’s Gospel, Pilate asks Him, point blank, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus could have said that He was and could have shown Pilate His power, but instead, he avoids the question. Towards the end of the reading, He states that “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
In intellectual terms we tend to think of truth in terms of reliability and dependability. In religious terms, we must allow truth to expand beyond that. New Testament scholar Emilie Townes says that it is possible to speak of truth as something that is done, rather than something that is simply believed or thought of. Jesus changes the way we look at truth, the way we understand it, the way we encounter it. If truth is a life to be lived, not just a fact to be believed, how might that change the way Christ’s truth is present in our lives? Because the truth we live matters more now than ever.
So what is truth, we might ask along with Pilate? Truth is peace, truth is hope, truth is that through God in Jesus, life came into being, and the life was the light of all people. Truth is that light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. How will we let that truth live out in our lives?
Prayers of Intercession
Eternal God, you hold firm amid the changes of this world. Hear us now as we pray for the church, the world, and everyone in need.
A brief silence.
God, you sent your Son Jesus to testify to the truth. We pray for preachers, missionaries, evangelists, and teachers, Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, who carry your forgiveness and love to the world. Fill their words and actions with compassion and kindness so that your truth will shine. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God, you sent your Son Jesus to liberate all of creation. We pray for all living things longing for the freedom to flourish, from ancient trees and wild grasses to endangered animals and rare insects. Give human beings compassionate hearts to care for them. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God, you sent your Son Jesus to lead us into the way of peace. Direct the members of international alliances in choosing a nonviolent path toward the future. Give them the humility and wisdom to make just decisions to benefit all. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God, you sent your Son Jesus to make us into your own people, set free to serve you. We pray for people who serve the well-being of others, especially ministries in our community. Renew them in their work. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God, you sent your Son Jesus to rule in all times and places. We pray for the friends of our congregation who are unable to join our worship in person and for all who are sick and suffering, especially those whom we remember on our prayer list, and those whose names we hold in our hearts. Join their prayers with ours and unite them with us in the body of Christ. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God, you sent your Son Jesus to be our beginning and our ending. We give thanks for those whose lives have given us a glimpse of Jesus’ reign of justice and peace. Empower us to join their witness. God, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
God our hope and strength, we entrust to you all for whom we pray. Remain with us always, through Jesus Christ, our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
God, the beginning and the end,
who has written your name in the book of life,
☩ bless and keep you in grace and peace
from this time forth and forevermore.
Led on by the saints before us,
go in peace to serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.