Sunday, 25 November 2012

The king of love

Revelation 1:4-8
John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Look! He is coming with the clouds;every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

In addition to all the questions that we have gleaned and mulled over from Marks gospel, today we might consider another question: What kind of king?
The answer to that question lies in the many discoveries we have made about Jesus as we have pondered all the other questions raised by the gospel over the last few weeks.
What makes us clean?
The things inside of you.
What must I do?
Love God with all your heart, mind and soul.
Where can I sit?
In the lowliest place.
Who is the greatest?
The one who is servant of all.
Which is the most important commandment.
To love.
Every question we've probed brings us face to face with a character who confounds expectation and who calls us to be different too.
The one that we encounter this morning in our reading from Revelation as the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end.
Christ the king:
A suffering king.
A serving king.
A king who stoops down to look in our eyes and tell us that we are loved.
Last year in Advent we decorated a Chrismon tree - a tree on which the decorations, in white and gold, all symbolised Jesus - from symbols of his baptism, to his life with the disciples, to his death on a cross.
Each decoration told a story.
About Jesus.
About love.
During the season of Lent, that tree was fashioned into a cross and we journeyed with Jesus through death to resurrection.
We have journeyed with Jesus through another year in the church but before we move once again into Advent, we pause to encounter the one who is Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, who was and is and is to come.
A king - but not as we know it.
In our town centres there are already signs of Christmas.
Lights are switched on, Santa has arrived.
Christmas trees have appeared in windows.
Christmas music fills the air.
But this one Sunday, in church, before we too become even more caught up in it, we pause to remind ourselves of the king whose birth we will celebrate.
The king who pours out his love in baptism.
The king who served others as he journeyed to the cross.
The king whose compassion embraced all whom he met on the way.
The king who still holds out love for each of us today.
Whether we are already caught up in the Christmas rush.
Or whether we're holding off until the last minute.
The king of love squats beside us, trying to catch our eye, trying to distract us from our need to do and inviting us simply to be.
The king of love who tells us - you are enough.
The king of love who proclaims - I love you just as you are.
And so, before we move into Advent, the church's season of preparation, let us today encounter love.
And, as we have celebrated that love in baptism, acknowledging that we love because first God loved us, may we celebrate too that love for our adult selves.
It is not only in the cuteness and innocence of infancy that Christ offers us love but in our youth and adulthood and later years - God still holds out love and repeats again: I love you just as you are.
Even though Advent is coming.
Even though we may feel we have so many preparations to make to allow us to celebrate Christmas.
Christ the king tells us again: I love you whether you're ready or not.
Today, as pressure mounts on us to get caught up in the rush, to conform to tradition, to cave in to buying gifts to prove our love, God whispers into this space - you are enough. I love you just as you are.
Lets be sure and hear that whisper and capture that promise while we still can today.
So that we can move into Advent, secure in the knowledge of Gods love for us, content that we are enough, confident that we can live in the love of God today and always.

For the little baby,
Dependant on others for survival,
God holds out love
For the child just beginning to encounter independence
God holds out love
For the teenager already rebelling
God holds out love
For the adolescent full of angst and confusion
God holds out love
For the adult shouldering weighty responsibility
God holds out love
For the middle aged striving to get it right
God holds out love
For the elderly fearful of once again becoming dependent
God holds out love
The king of love stoops down to offer Love
that holds all the promise of life everlasting.

Thanks be to God.

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