Sermon for November 22, 2020 Reign of Christ “Of Your Faith”
It is not Survivor or a scavenger hunt. Just because you get to the alter, wave your hands in the air proclaiming your sinfulness and have someone smack you on the forehead and declare that you are saved, does not mean you are.
The journey of faith is intensely personal and deeply communal and is rooted only in the love that God through Jesus has for each one. Any church, including this one or even the United Church, that declares they are the one and only true faith and hold the only real path to salvation are proclaiming a lie. No mortal being can make the assertion that you are saved. That is entrusted to God.
Perhaps a refresh on the teaching from Ephesians is timely; “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.”
This is the Reign of Christ Sunday and marks the last Sunday in the liturgical year. Next week we begin Advent and our journey to Bethlehem. For today we celebrate that Jesus is an ever present presence in our lives and we shout our praise. Well as much as allowed in these COVID-19 times.
Coming to the place of having faith in Jesus is not the end and we can move onto something else or rest on our laurels. Each day of faith is a new beginning, a new opportunity to seek insights and teachings and ways to be the faithful within our sphere of influence. And for each person it will be different. Some sing, some are farmers, some bake, some teach some deliver, some heal, some clean, some aide and some pray. On any given day we may have the capacity for one or two or more activities based on the nudging of our faith, and some days all we can manage is quiet and prayer. And Jesus says ’it is enough’.
What we do not boast of, is our rightness, our absolute certainty that my way is the only way. The Reign of Christ is a celebration of all the ways and paths that people come to faith, that people come to acknowledge Jesus is Lord, saviour, teacher and friend.
John Cole in his commentary on this text offers this insight: “Note this important shift, in verse 12 he begins by speaking of ‘we, who were the first to set our hope in Christ’. Then in verse 15 he says, ’I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus’ when he sets up his prayer. In this, he is both acknowledging our ultimate hope in Christ and reminding believers that we have not yet completed our task. The prayer is not a victory dance for those who have arrived but a clarion call to live a life worthy of the calling to which they have been called, to exhibit the body of Christ as God’s called people…Here is evidence that salvation does not involve joining the club of the saved but is, rather, an invitation to a role in Christ’s ongoing work of salvation and reconciliation, as the dividing walls continue to fall. The reign of Christ has granted him dominion over all cosmic powers and control that extends into the coming age.”
And that brings me right back to the beginning of the teaching, ‘I have heard of your faith in Jesus’. You, you gathered here this day, you are the ones entrusted with the message and mission of Jesus. That work is not complete. And whether you are new to faith or older, whether you come to faith from hitting the bottom or the gentle nurture of family, you, yes you are called, named and chosen to be the ones working toward the outpouring of love, compassion and redemption right where you are.
Jesus has heard of your faith and is well pleased.