Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· Masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Kay Werner, Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller and Joyce Chamberlin and family as they mourn the passing of her father.
*CALL TO WORSHIP
L: What does it mean, O Lord, to call you King?
P: It means that we listen to the voice of our Shepherd. We follow where he leads.
L: What does it mean to be a subject of Christ our King?
P: It means we are a forgiven people who work for justice and righteousness.
L: Bend low, Loving King,
P: Receive our praise and thanksgiving, and lead us more surely into your kingdom.
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord. Your power for life and hope astounds and amazes us. As we offer our praise and thanksgiving this day, we ask that you might fill us with your power for life and allow us to offer our whole beings in dedication to you. Amen.
*HYMN Rejoice, The Lord is King #155
(You may be seated.)
CALL TO CONFESSION
We are a people who lose sight of God’s design. Too often we fail to live our own best intentions, and then we hang our heads in sorrow and shame. Let us acknowledge these failings before the crown of our Lord. Let us seek God’s grace that we might be washed clean and empowered to begin again.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
On this Sunday set aside to consider the kingship of Christ and his claim upon our lives, we confess, O Lord, that we don’t like to think of anyone as having authority over our days. Yet, you who are the power of life, was obedient to God’s authority even unto death. In so doing you gave us the gift of grace and new life. Forgive us our arrogance, Lord. Help us to serve you, to lift your call for justice and righteousness and so bring new life into our world. Amen.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Jesus laid down his life so that all who call upon his name might know ourselves released from the darkness of our sin. Hear the good news. In Christ’s gift upon the cross we are forgiven and healed. May we claim this gift of new possibilities, and proclaim Jesus as Lord of all. Thank you, Loving Savior. Amen.
SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
PASSING THE PEACE
(Please greet those around you as we all say these words in unison.)
May the peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
As the people at the cross that day struggled to know your claim upon their lives, O Lord, we, too, seek to hear your call to us. We need to feel your presence in our lives. Remove the wax from our ears, Loving King, as we hear your word this day. Give us the power to follow where you lead. Amen
23 Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. 2 Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. 3 Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord 5 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[34 Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ 38 There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
SERMON Long Lives the King!
Jesus has many names. In the Old Testament Hebrew it would be Yeshua (we say Joshua) which means God saves. So, of course that goes with referring to Jesus as Savior or Redeemer. I mentioned recently some of the Old Testament laws regarding redemption, but when we refer to Jesus as Savior or Redeemer, we are talking about the one who rescues us and buys us back from the slavery of sin.
We call Jesus Rabbi which means Teacher as many did in the New Testament. As disciples then we also say Jesus is our Master. If we follow Jesus as teacher, we may also choose to serve Jesus as Master or Lord.
The Old Testament has various images of the leadership of a shepherd. David was a shepherd. Many love the shepherd theme in Psalm 23. Ezekiel also prophesied about a
Good Shepherd. The gospel writer John applies this in chapter 10. It is a favorite stained glass window scene. We refer to Jesus when we prayerfully sing, Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.
Various Old Testament prophesies refer to Jesus as a branch or shoot or seed. Isaiah 11 is the one that is heard most often, “A shoot will go forth from the stump of Jesse.” Jesse was the father of King David from whom it was promised that the Messiah would come.
Of course we often give Jesus the title Christ (in the Greek of the New Testament) which is Messiah (in the Hebrew of the Old Testament) and means anointed one. When the people begged for a king, God told Samuel to anoint Saul as the first king of the Jews. When God’s favor departed from Saul because Saul departed from God’s instructions, Samuel was told to anoint one of Jesse’s sons. God’s favor rested on the youngest, the shepherd boy, David.
As Jesus fills many of these titles and promises, he has also been called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace. Jesus as God’s Son has become our royal leader, a Shepherd King in the line and likeness of David. But Jesus is King and Lord of so much more!
How we think of kings and queens today? There are still monarchies in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, and several smaller European countries. The Pope is considered as king over The Vatican. African monarchies include Jordan and Saudi Arabia; we hear about them on the news. There’s also United Arab Emirate and a few more. In Asian it’s Bhutan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Japan. There are a few islands in the world with monarchies that are NOT part of the British Commonwealth. Here in the United States we probably think first of the kings and queens of the United Kingdom. Perhaps you have watched their weddings or coronations on television or watched movies about them. We read about various kings and queens or other royals in the news, but usually we hear the bad news more than the good.
What do we expect from a sovereign leader? I think my ideals were shaped in part by the 1998 movie version of Cinderella titled “Ever After” played by Drew Barrymore. Her reading of Utopia and other lessons from her late father, gave her the notion that it is the role of the monarch to care for the people. Isn’t that exactly what God also expects? To me that is the good shepherd, one who protects and provides and guides without exploitation or oppression, one whose priority is the people’s needs and not personal gain. This is my expectation of all leaders, not just those bearing a royal title.
My ideals are also shaped by what I read in the Old Testament. After Saul, David, and Solomon, things did not go well. The kingdom was divided and many of the kings were not good either in the northern kingdom of Israel or the southern kingdom of Judah. There were a few exceptions of course, like Josiah or Hezekiah, but most of the kings are remembered as doing evil in the Lord’s sight. That often meant they led the people to worship something other than the One True God and they did not live or lead according to God’s way.
A good king is described in Jeremiah 22:1-5 and the benefits as well as consequences for those who do or do not live up to God’s expectations.
Thus says the Lord: Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, 2 and say: Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah sitting on the throne of David—you, and your servants, and your people who enter these gates. 3 Thus says the Lord: Act with justice and righteousness and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you will indeed obey this word, then through the gates of this house shall enter kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses—they, their servants, and their people. 5 But if you will not heed these words, I swear by myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.
These chapters of Jeremiah point out the disappointing kings after Josiah. They are Shallum and Jehoiakim, sons of Josiah, also Coniah, son of Jehoiakin, and finally Zedekiah. Jeremiah 23:1-2 compares a king or any leader to a shepherd and expresses the failures of the leadership under King Zedekiah. (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
The "shepherds" on whom Jeremiah pronounced woe were not only kings but all the leaders of Judah—the civil leaders and the spiritual leaders (the prophets and priests). … The leaders were guilty of gross dereliction of duty. By oppression and shedding innocent blood, they destroyed the flock; those who were not destroyed were scattered to wander without protection. So the leaders were guilty of the very things the shepherds were charged with preventing. By leading the nation into idolatry, and so into the Babylonian captivity, the leaders had scattered the people. Moreover, contrary to the duty of shepherds to lead and feed the flock, they had driven the flock away.
Verses 3-5 go on to proclaim God as the good shepherd who will reverse the punishment and hardship of the exile. The people will be gathered and returned to their country just as a shepherd gathers the scattered flock and returns them to safe pasture. This signaled an end to the exile. Beyond that, God will set over the people new leaders, who will resemble the good shepherd and God will be the ultimate shepherd over all. For us this hints forward to Jesus as the Good Shepherd and Messiah.
Expositor’s Bible Commentary goes on to suggest,
there will be a time of blessing ahead. … he will reign as a true king, not as a puppet like Zedekiah and his immediate predecessors. He will execute justice and righteousness like his ancestor David (cf. 2Sa 8:15). In contrast to the inequities and injustices common to the Davidic kings, the Messiah's reign will be the opposite.
I’ve not read much of the leadership following the return of the exiles beyond what Nehemiah and Ezra accomplished rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall and temple. But by the time of Jesus it was the Hasmonean kings sitting on southern Judah’s throne. The one we know from the Christmas story is Herod the Great. While Herod thought of himself in grandiose terms and built magnificent fortresses with palaces, he was not so great in terms of the just and righteous king sought by the Jews. Nor was he one to free them from Roman domination. Instead those fortresses were built to secure his own escape route back to Edom from which his family came. History remembers him as cruel not only in the slaughter of innocents after Jesus’ birth, but even toward his own family. The first of our lessons in the Wednesday Morning Bible Study took us through a comparison of Herod and Jesus. While Herod lived in a magnificent palace, Jesus’ crib was a manger. Herod did everything to appear strong and powerful, but Jesus came as a vulnerable, powerless infant. While Herod grabbed for earthly status, Jesus briefly left his eternal status of honor, glory, and authority to put on human flesh and dwell among us. Herod lived for his own glory and purpose. Jesus lived to honor God and fulfilled God’s purpose. Herod left behind huge, well built, architectural structures to honor himself, but they no longer stand. Jesus’ legacy was to build people into a family of faith that would outlast his earthly ministry and carry on his work. Herod was self-serving; Jesus came to serve God by serving others. (These concepts all come from chapter 1 of the Discovery Guide for Life and Ministry of the Messiah in the DVD series That the World May Know by Ray Vanderlaan. Which of these would you rather claim as your king? To which would you give your allegiance? While worldly leaders will disappoint us at some time or most of the time, Jesus best fulfills my leadership expectations.
Today is the last Sunday of the Christian calendar. It celebrates Christ the King. It’s one of those more obscure holy days like Transfiguration Sunday or Trinity Sunday. But I find it helpful at least once a year to reaffirm that Christ is the King I choose to serve. I want God’s anointed to be the lord of my life. I trust no earthly king or president or any other world leader as fully as I trust Jesus.
The Crucifixion scene from Luke 23 we read as our gospel lesson today shows clearly how far Jesus would go to be our shepherd king. He would give his life, and did, that we might live, that our sin debt would be paid and we would be redeemed from death. Not only that, but Jesus also invites us as forgiven sinners to live with him in his heavenly kingdom. He said to the thief who confessed his sin, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus chose not to save himself but to save us. The one they accused of being “The King of the Jews” as an act of treason, is indeed my king for eternity.
It is common in many cultures to say respectfully some version of “Long live the King!” Truth be told whether it is king or queen, president or prime minister, pope or patriarch, CEO or Chair of the Board, or any other type of leader, some we might want to see in that position as long as possible and others we would like to get rid of as soon as possible. Whatever their intentions, self-serving or serving others, they are still human and therefore not perfect. But Jesus is the Son of God, the Holy One, and Jesus is perfect. Jesus is the only perfect king.
I found it curious that Pastor Joyce’s sermon title for today was not “Long live the king!” but rather “Long lives the king!” Sometime I’ll have to ask her what she had in mind for today’s message. But as I pondered my own take on it I thought of this. To say, “Long live the King!” we are wishing a human leader to stay on the throne for a long time. However, to say, “Long lives the King!” we are affirming that Jesus, our King, who is divine is still alive and always will be. Jesus lives on in that spiritual dimension we call heaven, and still wants to be Lord of our lives.
There is a saying my grade school friend taught me when we were young, “Joy is the banner flown over the castle of your heart when the king is in residence.” It’s a reminder of the joy that is ours if we allow Jesus to be our Lord and King. “Long lives the King!”
*HYMN Crown Him with Many Crowns #151
(You may be seated.)
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH ((from Luke 1: 68-72, 78-79—Zechariah’s Prophecy)
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant.
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high breaks upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.
*HYMN How Great Thou Art #467
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.