With Thanksgiving in the United States coming later in the week, some may be working from a different set of texts. Others of you might be balancing Thanksgiving, Reign of Christ, and the tail end of stewardship season this week. God be with you brave souls! But for now, let’s focus on this week’s Reign of Christ-themed texts. There might be something for all of us in them.

It’s the last Sunday of the liturgical year, when we culminate the year by declaring Christ’s reign/rule over the church.

We have David’s last words before his death, prophetically declaring God’s everlasting covenant with him and even likening his own reign to that of God’s. We find David using lofty language to comfort himself in the face of death. God’s dominion and God’s covenant will not fail, even as bodies do.

Psalm 93 gives us a brief treatise on the Lord’s kingship, employing some grand meteorological imagery.

We’ve got options from apocalyptic literature in both the Daniel and Revelation texts.

And we have the Good Friday narrative from John’s gospel: Pilate’s discourse with Jesus.

I imagine that preachers are also still wrestling with how to faithfully address the world’s anguish right now, if you weren’t already crumbling up your first draft and starting over just this past weekend. The beauty about this theme, Reign of Christ, is that it has the potential to speak to a number of issues. Having been first established to counter nationalism, it can speak to us as our nations¬†wrestle with their approaches to Syrian refugees. If you’re doing stewardship, perhaps RoC has something to say about allegiances, priorities, and what/whom it is we serve with our substance. American preachers might want to forgo the more agrarian texts and use RoC to speak about Thanksgiving, the common table, and our ultimate unity across national and cultural borders.

Where are you going with these texts? To what are you aiming to speak this week?

5 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Reign of Christ Edition

  1. I’m off all the usual lectionaries and feeling disjointed because of it. I still don’t feel like I have my “preaching legs” under me after returning from sabbatical almost 8 weeks ago. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how to do it, that I don’t know how to proclaim anymore.

    I showed up at text study this morning and only one other colleague was there. Since I didn’t know what the heck I’m doing this week yet, we talked about his preaching plans – – the John passage. I started thinking about preaching it myself. The musicians went ahead and picked Thanksgiving themed music, so without any other plans myself I thought I’d join them in that direction. I’m afraid I’m going a little bit dark, though.

    I’m struck by “What is truth?” which I would include in the reading. In comparison to the picture perfect Thanksgiving celebrations so many of us will try to create next week – – what is truth? Is the blessing game we will all play around the table truth? Likewise the 30 days of gratitude on Facebook and other memes like it. Do they shine a light in dark places or do they just blind us to the reality that life isn’t all picture perfect? They aren’t lies, I don’t think, but are they truth?

    So Pilate asks Jesus if it’s true, is he the King of the Jews? Well, yes and no, right? He is sovereign; he is Lord. He is Son of God, but Jesus didn’t seek out kingship the way it was characterized for/on him. He didn’t post a crown on his FB timeline – #grateful. He is king, but not in the way the world expects a king. The truth of his kingship is that he rules not with political power, but with humility, not with physical might, but with mercy, not with violence, but surrender, even surrender unto death.

    The truth of the gospel, the truth of Jesus, the truth of our God (borrowing some thoughts from Katie’s Pastoral is Political post yesterday) isn’t always picture perfect. It’s rarely easy. It’s often risky. When Jesus spent his ministry testifying to the truth, it got him slapped, whipped, spat upon, and killed. When Jesus pointed to a love that is for the whole world, not just for those with privilege and knowledge and money and the right color of skin, it got him rejected.

    The truth is that the things the world often counts as blessings – money, luxury, security, power, prestige – are exactly the things that Jesus cautions us against. So while they may be things for which we offer thanks, this season or any, the truth of who Jesus is needs to push us to consider:

    How did Jesus use his “kingship” – – to speak truth to power, to stand on the side of the outcast, to welcome sinners to his table, to lift up those who have been laid low

    How will we use our status, our influence, our privilege – – whether we asked for it or not? Whether we were born into it or we worked for it?

    Offering thanks for the gifts in our lives is an important part of living in response to the gospel, but it’s not an end in and of itself. Risking those gifts for the blessing of others is the next step.

    Maybe?

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    1. Thank you Stephanie , some very helpful thoughts to get me pondering. In my previous placement I led a blue Christmas service and talked about how Christmas wasn’t picture perfect for Mary and Joseph, and isn’t for so many of us. Not picture perfect may well be my sermon title this week .

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  2. I’m still working out a lot of the sermon, but I think I’m going to focus on truth. Jesus offers us the truth about who he is, and John tells us that truth over and over again. The truth is that he is God, come to dwell among us. But our words, our actions, our lives must proclaim that truth, or else, for us, it becomes meaningless.
    Also fear- there is so much fear out there now, I’m trying to figure out how to work that in.

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  3. I’m doing a sermon with the focus on the “power” at work then and now, who has it, who really is king in one’s life. Saving the “what is truth” aspect for an upcoming sermon later in the coming year. After waiting. praying, discerning and talking about preaching an entire year through John, it’s gonna happen, some 8 years later! Will be very interesting, and will be keeping with the OT, PS and Epistle readings in the Lectionary cycle, and just swapping out the Gospel readings. As much as I love Luke’s writings, I just needed a break from them. It meant coming up with all of the Call to Worship, Prayers, Confession and Hymns, utilizing them from past sources, and creating some new ones too. A little bit time consuming to set it up, (about 5 weeks) but worth it. Looking forward with anticipation to this journey! Blessings for a great Thanksgiving and Advent season!

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  4. I’m guest preaching this weekend, at a small church in a town I’ve only ever driven through. I’ve never done this before, so it feels a little strange to have no connection to the community and to come in and speak on this Sunday. But I think I’ll be working primarily with John, heading in the direction of talking about kingdoms … “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” Where might that take us and what might that world look like…?

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