The Rev Deacon Chris Beukman
Sermon for the last Sunday of the Church Year, Christ the King
Good morning St. John’s!! Please be seated.
Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church year before our journey of Advent begins next week
I have to begin by admitting I never had much affinity for the image as Christ as our King. I find it much easier to visualize Christ as a brother walking beside me in my own trials and tribulations, or even easier: as one of our patients on the Memory Unit stricken with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Colette, a priest of the Diocese who presented to the Deacon group two weekend ago on her work with people living with memory loss explained that her ministry was in response to Jesus commandment: ‘what you have done for the least of these you have done for me-‘ and I agree.
Especially as Americans, it is difficult for us to relate to the image of Christ as King, because we don’t have a monarchy or royal family here – maybe with the exception of the Kennedy clan of Hyannis port, Massachusetts . After we ousted King George and his redcoats, we have little appetite for the idea of a monarchy. This may be a little different for those who were foreign born in this parish, like Joanne and her family and myself. We do have a constitutional monarchy of sorts in the Netherlands, with recently a reigning king who is a bit of a doofus and who is continually upstaged by his beautiful and intelligent Argentinian queen. Recently, alter the king had managed to shoot himself in the foot again, Queen Maxima explained in her halting beginning Dutch ‘hij is een beetje dom’- ‘he is a little bit stupid.’
I am not even sure the Gospels themselves have much affinity for this kingly image. Only in Matthew is the Kingly image of Jesus put forth, Luke and Mark mention Jesus as King only when his enemies name him so.
One of the reasons for this absence of the kingly idea might be the fact that where the Roman empire rules strong, like in the Holy Land, Kings were weak puppet figures , straw men for the Emperor. As the Middle Ages began in Europe, people saw kings as greedy and corrupt figures who engaged in nepotism and all other different kind of sins and mischiefs.
I learned in doing my research that Christ the King Sunday was a 1925 invention instituted by Pope Pius XI and was originally much more in the vicinity of All Saint’s Sunday, about a month back in the liturgical calendar. Even then, it was apparently instituted to take the wind out of the sails of Reformation day, which was celebrated in much more gusto even in those days.
Even so, the image of stern and firm ruler over cowering and obedient subjects in a rigid and authoritarian kind of Kingdom does not work for me at all. I had to wander off to a work by a different king, our own MLK to find a model that works better for me.
Dr. King loved to speak of the ‘beloved community ‘ This beloved community is defined as : ‘a global vision in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.’
In other words, this is a community of love. As our presiding bishop asserts: if it’s not about love, it’s not about God-
During these last four years at St. John’s Franklin , I have seen a glimpse of that beloved community as we as a community struggle to rebuild alter some turbulent years of change and instability.
I felt a glimpse of that beloved community the first Sunday I was here. As Paula and I were processing out, a little guy whose name I later learned was Tyler grabbed our hands and led us out of the sanctuary in procession, and this happened again last week.
I was struck by the symbolism of Tyler leading us out each week, and I thought of Scripture where it says in the prophet Isaiah ( and I think this is also about the beloved community) ‘The streams and mountains shall clap their hands, and a little child shall lead them’.
Lately I have begun to think about the beloved community of God in Franklin as a place led by our children and our young people, and this is clearly the strength we have as a community and the reason for our future success, and also the reason I have never felt to connected by a parish I served as I have here in Franklin.
The power of St. John’s lies clearly in its young people. The last few years, I have loved being invited to Sunday school , and we do this little quiz every time (something I have stolen from Bishop Tom’s ministry) We do this little question and answer : Who are the most important people at St. John’s ? Kathy and Chris? No way ? The vestry people ? No. The people who count the money? No .The bishops when they come to visit ? no. You, the children and youth of St. John’s are the most important people in this parish. You are not only the strength of this beloved community but also it future. So when I looks at Emily and Megan and , Kate and Jake, Jonathan and Timothy and of course Tyler, I see the future of the Church.
This being said, I am boundlesslessly optimistic about the future of God’s beloved community in Franklin. First of all, I am optimistic because of Kathy’s strength and vision, and the long-sough stability she can now offer to our beloved community.
I am boundlessly optimistic about St. John’s because of the incredible improvement of the music ministry here led by Nancy. What a difference you make Nancy.
I am optimistic about St. John’s because of the work of the WAM ladies, and I am boundless optimistic about St. John’s because the work Kitty does with the young people.
I am boundless optimistic about St. John’s because of all the volunteer work that vestry in people put in the make the Christmas Fair and the pageant and all these wonderful events throughout the year a success.
So s I am leaving you this Sunday it’s a little bittersweet thinking back of all the good times we had, but I also have to tell you am I full of excitement about being called as a Deacon to a ministry to Deacons, both in terms of pastoral support and deployment. I have a small tangible gift for you that I’d lie to hand to Kathy now.
This is copy of the Diocesan Needs Assessment for the Assignment of a Deacon.
I am asking Rector, Vestry and people of this beloved community of God in Franklin to give this prayerful consideration, and to think in very specific terms how in the future you might engage the work of a new Deacon again. Think about it and file it with us. , so perhaps this Sunday is the beginning of the road for a new call for a new Deacon in Franklin.
May God hold all of us in the palm of God’s hand!!