Sermon for November 21, 2021                    Reign of Christ                        “Who is Jesus”

After: Son of God, part of the trinity and Messiah, who Jesus was and is varies from person to person, church to church and country to country. Perhaps that is part of the intrigue of Jesus, that spurs us to keep searching and keep trying to figure out who Jesus is for me. It has been a lifelong adventure and I am still learning more about this teach/Messiah Jesus.

In her writing on Revelation, biblical scholar Elizabeth Forney writes; “The Christian community is reminded both of the origin of its identity and its ultimate hope for the future in Revelation. The cadence of beginnings and endings resounds over and over again in this text. The Christian community is saluted with transcendent strains of the eternal while facing a present reality that is all to imminent and deadly.  During the period of history in which this text was write, the Roman Empire had made being Christian painful and dangerous. The temptation to fall away from the faith was palpable. Writing from exile himself, John summons up the titles, the images and the end of time promises of Christ, creating a poetic piece of inspiration and praise. Such a song of confidence and faith is as relevant to Christian life today as it was in John’s time. Despite the fact that in Canada people do not get exiled because of their faith, there are some who feel ostracized by both culture and community because of their dedication to Christ and his message of salvation. Our enlightened and scientific age leave little room for belief in one’ who is and who was and who is to come.’ The empire that threatens the heart of Christianity today with commercialism, self-indulgence, and increasing isolation is as deadly as the Roman Empire was when Joh was writing. Many are literally dying of thirst for words of ‘grace and peace’ from the eternal One, like those with which John opens his letter. John reminds us of what we already know but often forget in the trials of living in the world – or what we have allowed to be drowned out by the empire that keeps trying to give us different purpose and focus.”

In our world today the experience of being Christian is tested from within and without the church. One of the challenges from without or the secular world is our challenge to clearly say what being Christian is, we can say we belong to Jesus but when pushed as to what that means we tend to stumble. The church is also faced with its history. What is most remembered are the painful parts: the abuse, the accusations, the arrogance and perception of rightness. A challenging commentary today is; that non-believers and believers tend to look and behave exactly the same way. So the growing number of non-believers are asking why would I become Christian? Because all the good is overshadowed by our very un-Christian like history.

Being part of a community of faith is more than belonging to a club or service group or sports team. Christians belong to a kin-dom that endures, that cannot be defined by or limited to earthly standards, that embraces all and for which leaving should not be easy. Churches are more like families. They can be boisterous, fun, challenging, teasing and testy but family is, we may choose to step out for a moment but family is always family. The relationships shift and change and yet there is that connection that binds.

Jesus is the one who binds the family. We do not always agree on the why or the how come but we can agree that Jesus is the one that binds us in this earthy realm and in the eternal realm of God. Which by the way, is where our real membership belongs.

Surely the kin-dom is present wherever Jesus is present. It is present wherever we experience the reign of God through God’s invitation, healing and restoration, but our belonging is not up to each one of us alone. Our belonging is up to God. That is the new reality that Jesus proclaims. That is the new truth to which all of us, the community of those named, called and chosen, belong. That is why we say: “we are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God. We trust in God. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.”