Christ the King 11/20/16
My grandson has a favorite riddle for Thanksgiving. What do you get when you cross a centipede with a turkey? Drumsticks for everybody!
A group of Moms got together and composed a list of things they are thankful for. They wrote that they were especially thankful: “For husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house because they usually make them big enough to call in the professionals. “For children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They’re such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents. “For teenagers because they give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.” And finally, “For Smoke alarms because they let you know when the turkey’s done.”(1)
This Thursday we will gather around family tables and recall the things we are thankful for. Today is the day we consecrate our pledges at the altar as we recall all that God has given us and offer a portion of that in return as a concrete way of giving thanks. Today is also Christ the King Sunday, in which we give thanks for a different kind of king – a king who shows his love for his people by willingly giving his life on a cross for our salvation. Next Sunday we begin a new church year with the beginning of Advent, preparing us for the birth of Christ. God became flesh and dwelt among us. That God left his heavenly throne and came to live among us is something that we cannot possibly ever give enough thanks for.
There was no other way that God could have possibly revealed His nature to us. Suppose, instead, He had chosen one of us and taken us to be with Him and then sent us back to tell others. Do you think anyone would listen? Years ago The American Magazine had a true story about an Eskimo from Greenland who was taken on one of the American North Polar expeditions. Later, as a reward for his faithfulness, he was brought to New York City for a short visit. He was amazed at the sights and sounds he beheld there. When he returned to his native village, he told stories of buildings that rose into the very face of the sky; of streetcars, which he described as houses that moved along the trail, with people living in them as they moved; of mammoth bridges, artificial lights, and all the other dazzling aspects of being in a metropolis. After he described the wonders he had seen, his people looked at him coldly. They did not believe him. Instead, they gave him a new name. Sagdluk--which means The Liar - the name he was known by for the rest of his life. (2)
There was no other way God could have done it then come to us Himself. It was essential that the God of all creation take upon himself the flesh and frailty of humanity. And it was necessary for Christ the King to give up his flesh on the cross for our behalf. Dr. Claude H. Barlow was a missionary to China and one of the most revered foreigners to work in that land. A strange disease for which Dr. Barlow knew no remedy was killing people. There was no research laboratory for this disease, so Dr. Barlow conducted his own research. He studied the disease, filling a notebook with his observations. He then procured a vial of disease germs and sailed for the United States. Before he arrived in this country, however, Dr. Barlow did something quite extraordinary. He took the germs from that vial and injected them into his own body. Then he went to Johns Hopkins University Hospital to be observed. Claude Barlow was very sick now. He allowed the doctors at Johns Hopkins to use him for experimentation. Fortunately a cure was found, which a healthy Claude Barlow took back to China with him.
His efforts saved countless lives. When asked about the experience, Dr. Barlow replied, “Anyone would have done the same thing. I happened to be in the position of vantage and had the chance to offer my body.” (3)
I doubt that just anyone would have done that. Only a person with a very special kind of love in his or her heart would make that kind of sacrifice. Christ made that same kind of sacrifice in our behalf. It is that very special kind of love proceeding from the heart of God that holds this world together. Without that love we are all orphans in a strange and hostile universe. So today and in the days ahead, we give thanks for many blessings, but mostly we give thanks for our inclusion in the family of God—an inclusion made possible by one who took creation’s longest walk – from the throne of heaven to a stable in Bethlehem to a lonely cross on a hill called Calvary and back to heaven once again.
Christ our King.
1. Melvin Newland, http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/enter-with-thanksgiving-melvin-newland-sermon-on-thanksgiving-holiday-39929.asp.
2. Contributed. Source unknown.
3. (Waco: Word Books 1986).
Additional source material from Dynamic Preaching, 2016.