Christ the King
Pastor Leta Arndt Behrens
When my grandfather passed away a few years ago it was time to clean out the house they had lived in for 60 years. As you can imagine, this was not a quick simple project. My grandparents were very tidy people and they were people who kept, well, all the things. So it was a daunting project. AND it was a cleaning out like I had never experienced before, treasures were found around every corner and in each nook and cranny. We found silver sets we never knew existed and photos that were well worn and precious. But it wasn’t until my sister and i were cleaning out the dressers that we found what was truly hidden and loved by each of them. In my grandma’s dresser as we quickly figured out that we had to take out each article of clothing because there could be a $20 bill that would fall out! And in my grandfather’s dresser… ok we were a little hopeful that we would find $50s.. But instead we found hundreds of tiny little chocolate bars stuffed in between the shirts and thrown in with the socks. These treasures we found uncovered something we didn’t know about our grandparents and they brought laughter and joy to the room.
Perhaps you have had the experience of grand clean up or small simple one that brought treasures into your life–the $10 bill haphazardly stuck in a pocket last winter makes its appearance and you suddenly have a little extra for a warm cup of hot chocolate! Or maybe it was something you lost long ago and, as a friend of mine had happen, you crawl all the way under the bed for a good dusting and in the midst of dust you find your wedding ring. And your heart swells because something that was lost has been discovered.
In our reading from Kings today, we have a story of king, Josiah, and his grand cleaning out that leads to a newness to his kingship and uncovering of a treasure that was long lost to the people and when found brings a swelling to their heart and new step forward in their lives as people of God. Josiah became king when he was just 8 years old and he inherited the role after the death of his father. Josiah is uplifted as a good king, one who followed in the heart of David and who reigned well. And part of his story is because of a grand clean up. He decided it was time for the temple to be renovated. This building that had stood for so many years, where his parents and grandparents and great grandparents had worshiped and served as royalty, was in need of the hands of the next generation. And as the priest and others were cleaning out the temple for this project, they came across a great treasure; one that they didn’t even really remember had been lost–the book of the law. A scroll really that had words that are now about of the book of Deuteronomy, this scroll was ascribed to Moses’ own hand and included words about worshipping only Yahweh and told the story of the people including the exodus and the passover meal that was to be shared. And so Josiah reinstituted the worship of God alone and he began again to celebrate the passover and bring the stories back to the people.
This treasure turned out to be more profound than any other. It was like a love letter from their grandparents or even more from God. A way for the people to renew what they had forgotten about their ancestors, about themselves, one another, and the promise that they were God’s people. It was a turning point for them, one where they learned that they had a place and a promise to live into. And through this Josiah is remembered as a true king, one who lead the people back to the love and mercy of God.
Jesus too is this kind of king. King is a tough word for us to grasp, especially with regards to our faith. So why in the world is there a whole Sunday dedicated to this idea of Christ as king? This story of Josiah and the story of the cross give us a clue. Our text from Luke of the crucifixion of Jesus is a key text because it is really the first time Jesus is ever referred to as king. This was not a name that the disciples used or the people that followed. Jesus is not lifted up as a king while he teaching and healing. He is not king until there are charges brought against him. Messiah, yes, but messiah means savior and in the time of the people this was not automatically associated with a king figure. The political charge comes from Pilate and Pilate places the title upon him as he is sent to die. With this title of king, Jesus forgives, loves and he too brings the people back to the love and mercy of God.
This is what a Godly king does. Seeks us out and brings us back to the heart of the law which is the grace and mercy of God. From the dust and dirt of the storage space of the temple and from the cross and the grave, God comes and uncovers treasures that can make our hearts swell and the course of our lives change forever. In this promise, we too are invited to see and live and know the Holy Spirit moving among us. At times we seek this out and at times we are surprised by grace. And always, always, God is with us as a king who uncovers the mystery of the Holy spirit among us.
We have 41 people on this type of seeking pilgrimage right now. Going to Israel, seeing what we call the Holy Land, walking where Jesus walked and seeing the places he stood as well as the kings before him stood can be a holy experience. I have some photos to share with you–So far our travelers have floated in the dead sea, seen the church of the nativity, walked the streets of Bethelehm and seen the wilderness of Masada.
And as they have seen these places, they have also seen and met the people of God who dwell there and their faces and stories are what so far have made the biggest impact of the heart. This priest from Poland connecting his story with the story of land, this woman whose face shows us God in the sparkle of her eyes and the years on her face.
And then there is this video posted by one of the travelers with these words:
We saw a lot today. This was probably one of the most meaningful moments of the day. It is at a little chapel at Beit Sahour – the Shepherd’s Field – Church of the Angels. At first we were the only ones in here. Then a group from Delaware came in. The acoustics were amazing so we started singing and everybody joined in. “Can we do that again?” was the response. So we did. Keep singing.
Keep singing, keep searching, keep connecting, and keep knowing that the promises of God are around every corner and in every nook and cranny because the promise from the cross, the promise from our creator God and the promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise that Christ is king and will always bring us back to love and mercy.