Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King Holds Us Together

This is the message I preached this morning at Zion Lutheran Church, Baker, WV.
Being a part of our household can be quite an adventure and you just never know where it may lead. Those who know me well know I am not the most graceful or coordinated person. Inanimate objects in our home also suffer the consequences of getting bumped, knocked over, dropped, and sometimes broken. We keep a good supply of duct tape, glue, and other adhesives in stock. Things can be repaired or replaced. Super Glue is a wonderful invention.
But what about our hearts, our emotions, our families, our church? It is not so easy to fix them. Super Glue is fine for things, but what about OUR brokenness?
We all have circumstances we encounter in life. Sometimes it just becomes too much and we feel hopeless. And we wonder where God is in all of it. It just isn’t supposed to happen like that. Parents lose a child. A long marriage dissolves in the pain of divorce. The poet William Butler Yeats expressed this feeling in these words, “…Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…” (William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming).
            Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in the church year. As Americans, we may find it difficult to relate to the idea of a king. Kings aren’t part of our culture like they are in some countries. I would like to focus on the reading from Colossians.
            It begins as a prayer for the Colossians and I believe it is one we can claim for ourselves as well. We may feel weak as individuals, as a church. We may wonder where all this will end? Hear this good news:
 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

            This strength comes from God’s glorious power, which never refers to simply human power in the New Testament. It is God’s power that strengthens us, not our own. God has prepared us to endure.
            This life can be a struggle for us. But in Christ, we have an inheritance. We are children of God and our God has given us a great heritage.
Following the prayer, we are shown just who this Jesus is that we follow. He is our redeemer, the one who has delivered us from “sin, death, and the power of the devil” as Luther wrote in the Small Catechism. He has set us free.
            Jesus is also creator of all things in heaven and earth, seen and unseen. The emphasis throughout the passage is on what God has done, not on what we have to do.
            Jesus is first—the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn from the dead, first place in everything. As one theologian says, “He is first in priority, before all things…first in importance, beyond all things…first in rank, above all things… first in origin, source of all things…first in order, ahead of all things…”  (Audrey L. S. West, New Proclamation). This isn’t saying, “My Savior’s better than yours,” but rather nothing exists anywhere outside of Christ’s domain.
            Now as wonderful as all this is it gets better. Do any of you remember hearing in science class about “cosmic glue”? It is that invisible substance that holds the worlds together. According to an article I read, now there is even a race among scientists to detect traces of this invisible cosmic glue. As Christians, we already know what this cosmic glue is. It is Jesus Christ, the creator of the universe. Jesus not only creates and redeems us, but holds all of creation and us together.
Have you ever seen old photo albums where the pictures were glued onto the pages? What happens over time? The glue dries, the pictures drop off, and everything is all mixed up. It’s a mess. Thankfully, Jesus isn’t like that. Jesus, the cosmic super glue does not dry up, die, or fail. He continues forever to hold all things together. Christ brings creation and us to be in a “condition of [unity to] continue, [to] endure, [to] exist, and hold together" (BDAG).
There have been times in my life when I was desperate--when my family was having financial difficulties, when I had a knee injury and was out of work for a year. I didn’t know how I would cope, how I would go on. Jesus held me together. He held my family together. It’s like the old song says, “He’s got the whole world in his hands…”
            That’s nice, but what is God’s objective in all of this? The heart of everything is summed up in the final verse, “through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”
            There is hope for us because of who Jesus is and what he has done. This is just the time we need to celebrate Christ the King and his reign in our lives.
            Listen to the way The Message  translation expresses our hope:
He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he's there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.
            Let us pray:
            Christ our King, we bring our brokenness to you. As the glue that holds everything together, we ask you to fix and heal us. Fit us together in vibrant harmonies of your love and use us to your glory. Amen.