Christ is the King of All Seasons 

John 18:33-37

33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

36 Jesus said,

“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus
Today the Church celebrates Christ the King Sunday. This last Sunday in our liturgical year provides us an opportunity to acknowledge Christ as King of our lives, and to see our King in all his glory. Our first reading today takes us into the book of Daniel. God’s people were facing terrible oppression and suffering they thought would never end. Daniel’s vision shows the people that God, the “Ancient One,” is still ruling, and that their suffering will come to an end. God’s dominion is from everlasting to everlasting, and God’s kingdom will never pass away. Daniel spoke a word of hope to God’s people, the word that God has not and will not abandon God’s people. These words gave them strength to endure their hardship and suffering.

This theme is echoed in today’s second reading. These words serve as a summary theme to the Book of Revelation. "Grace & peace to you from the one who is and who was and who is to come..." God’s reign spans the length of time. From before time existed until time is no more, our God reigns. What powerful imagery! These words bring hope that no matter what suffering we face, no matter how hopeless our situation, God is still in control, watching over us and guiding our feet into the way of peace. These words call us to face the future boldly, as we place our trust and, indeed, our very lives into the hands of the one who controls past, present, and future.

Our Gospel reading gives us a glimpse of our great King coming into his glory. As the scene opens, Pilate is questioning Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" In his response, Jesus states, "My kingdom is not of this world." Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see examples of Jesus living differently than those around him. He calls children blessed, bringing them near to him when others would shoo them away. He appreciates a poor widow’s offering more than what the rich man offers. He has compassion on lepers and other outcasts when his society ignores them. Jesus showed us what God’s heart is about: caring for all people equally and striving against the "everybody does it" of society. And, ultimately, Jesus’ highest moment of glory on the earth comes when he is lifted up on the cross, freely offering his life for us. Jesus’ kingdom is nothing like this world has ever seen.

The seasons of the church year help us to refocus on what should be most important in our lives: who God is, what God is about and our calling to be the people of God in the world. Each season provides us with a different picture of Jesus. Each season shows us a different face of Christ as the Ruler of all.

During the season of Advent, which starts next week, we prepare for the coming of Christ. The scripture readings speak first of God coming to earth in human form, and we prepare for the coming of the babe in the manger. The readings also speak of Christ’s return at the end of time, in judgment and glory. In light of these readings, we continually prepare to meet our Lord. We seek to live our lives accordingly, doing nothing we wouldn’t want to be caught doing, or, rearranging our priorities to reflect what God considers important. The Advent season is also a time of preparation for Christmas, where we pray "let every heart prepare him room." It is a time when we all look forward in hope: hope of a promise to be fulfilled, hope of a future restored, hope for the life to come.

The Christmas season is a season often ignored. Lasting either one to two weeks, it comes at a time when many of the world are ready to be done with the Holiday. In the church’s Christmas season, we remember why Jesus came as he did, as a human child. He came to redeem all of humanity from its sinful ways and the punishment we earn. Many preachers say during the Christmas season that there cannot be a manger without a cross, and there cannot be a cross without a manger.  The Christmas window in the Narthex has the cross (star) in it.  Jesus was born to die. Even as we gaze on the child in the manger, we must know he came for a purpose: our salvation. We remember, too, during the Christmas season that we have been named and claimed for a purpose: to be the beloved children of God in this world of sin.

The season of Epiphany is marked by the magi following the star to Bethlehem, in search of a leader, a savior, a king. The dominant image of Epiphany is light. Even the word "epiphany" means "shining forth" and in this season, we witness to the light of Christ shining into our darkness. This season focuses on Jesus’ miracles and how God dwells among us. We realize that we do dwell in darkness, that our habits and our nature drives us to darkness and evil. We cannot be left to ourselves because we cling to that darkness. Christ shines in our world to cast out all darkness and evil. Christ enables us to turn away from our sin and have hope, in spite of the world around us. This season ends with Jesus on the mount, being transformed before the eyes of his followers. Once again shrouded in light, Jesus reveals his power and purpose in the world. Christ is the victor over sin, death and the power of the devil; thus we look to the light of Christ in the world.

Lent is a time that many people know. We all know stories of people denying themselves during this season. It indeed is a time of study and change. During this time we learn of Jesus’ journey to the cross on our behalf and the challenges he met along the way. We also see how Jesus comes to meet us in our life and faith journey, as he walks with us during our times of frustration and suffering. Lent is a time of repentance, of "turning around," that we might recommit our lives to living out our faith in Christ in a more real, practical way.

Holy Week concludes the Lenten season with a series of special events. On Maundy Thursday we learn again about the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus instructed his disciples with a new commandment, "to love one another as I have loved you" and to show this love in practical ways. Good Friday is only good because we know what happened next. Good Friday gives Jesus’ followers a chance to walk with their Lord to the cross and to know what pain and grief lay there. Good Friday reminds us that our salvation was bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus.

Easter is God’s great surprise: Jesus does not remain in the tomb and neither will we. As the women were filled with amazement and great joy at the news of Jesus’ resurrection, we too embrace the new possibilities of living an Easter life. Through Easter we learn that God’s promises can be trusted; nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, therefore we are free to live our lives for others and in service to our God. The 50 days of Easter give us time to explore this great mystery of our faith. We take time to discover how God comes to us in our daily lives, to bring us resurrection and renewal daily. Christ defeats death and we are given the promise of salvation. We then ask our Lord, "How can I share this good news with others?"

The longest season of our church year begins with the Feast of Pentecost, celebrating the sending of the Holy Spirit. We travel to Jerusalem and witness another promise come true: the tongues of fire resting on Jesus’ followers. We hear the disciples proclaiming the good news of Jesus in all the languages of the world and we sense the crowd’s amazement at this miraculous event. The promises of the Holy Spirit’s presence resound in our ears during this season as we strive to see God’s working in our world today, in, through and around us.

During this season of Pentecost we sit with the crowds at Jesus’ feet and hear his teachings. We learn what it means to be a disciple, a follower of the risen Christ. In words and actions, Jesus shows us what it means to trust God with our lives and what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Throughout the church year we see, time and time again, how Christ rules in our lives. We are called to acknowledge the many gifts our Lord gives us and we are empowered to put those gifts to service. Year after year we are reminded of the depth of God’s love for us as we learn about Jesus’ life and mission. Our church seasons help us to refocus on the source of our lives: God’s goodness and gracious gifts to us in the Son of God and in the Spirit of God. We know our God is faithful and steadfast. We are reminded throughout the church year that God’s love never ends and that we are given the strength to prevail in the midst of life’s challenges. We are given the courage to share the wondrous message of peace, hope and life in Christ Jesus. We are sent out with a command and a promise: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Mt. 28:19-20)

Through all the seasons of our lives, God is with us, supporting and guiding us. That is how Christ is the King - nothing and no one else can make that claim. And there is a great comfort in knowing that each of these seasons is about Jesus the King.  Christ is King. Praise be to God. Amen.