Readings for the day (Christ the King – Sunday, November 25, 2018):
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.
One summer day, we were driving on the interstate heading to a family gathering of some kind. I don’t remember where exactly we were going or what we were doing. All I remember, is that we hadn’t been on the road for more than 30 minutes and it began to rain. And then it rained harder. And harder. It got to the point where it was raining so hard it was white outside. And then, if that wasn’t bad enough, it started to hail. A little bit at first. And then it got more intense. It was starting to look like winter outside. The road and the ditches were getting covered in white. We even started singing, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” This nasty storm continued for about five miles or so. And we began debating if we should stop under the next overpass to wait out the storm, when all of sudden the storm stopped. It just stopped. No gradual letting up. It just stopped all together with a few rain drops here or there. It was the most bizarre thing.
In life, we go through many storms. Some are short lived. Other storms drag on for way too long. Some are rather weak in nature and are more of a nuisance than anything else. While other storms are a lot more intense and have the potential of throwing our lives into complete chaos. When you’re living in the midst of a storm, it is challenging to find hope; to find that light at the end of the tunnel. In one of his standup acts, the comedian Robin Williams, talks about the game of golf. He said that the object of the game is to get a ball in a gopher hole, but they put the hole hundreds of yards away. And then there are trees and bushes and tall grass and pools and sandboxes to mess with you and your ball. But at the end there’s a flat top near the hole with a little flag to give you hope.
Now this was a comedian making fun of the game of golf. But there is some truth in that last part. That if you are in the middle of a storm, whether it is a rain storm, snow storm, a storm in life, or even just a really bad game of golf, it is much easier to get through the storm when you can see the end. Because if you can see the end, you have hope. Hope that the end is coming. Hope that relief is coming. Which means that the storm will be ending soon.
The challenging book of Revelation is something that is feared by many Christians because of the sufferings and afflictions that are described in the book. Why would someone who is already going from one storm to another, want to read a book from the Bible that describes the stormy future that lies ahead? But if that is your only takeaway from John’s revelation while he was on the island of Patmos, then you haven’t looked at this book very closely. Because not only does this book reveal the harsh realities of this life, this book also reveals the light at the end of the tunnel, the flag on the green. It gives us hope. The book of Revelation has a prominent message of hope embedded in it. The book describes how Jesus is enthroned on high, and that He will return to deliver us (the church) from all evil. And we don’t need to look any further than our reading for today from the prologue; the introduction, for a message of hope.
Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.” The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Now simply saying that Jesus is the beginning and the end doesn’t provide us with much comfort. Because we could take this as meaning He will be with us at the beginning of our life and at the end of our life. But not necessarily during the largest chuck of our life, the middle. However, the text doesn’t stop there. It continues by saying, “The Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come.” Who was – means our past. That God was with us before. Our alpha. Our beginning. Who is to come – means our future. That God will be with us in the future. Our omega. Our ending. But the text actually begins with, “The Lord God, who is…” Who is – means our present. That God is with us now. Our God and His divine presence is always with us. We cannot erase Him from our human experience. We can only ignore Him. But it is we who ignore Him. Not the other way around. God promises to always be with us. And that is hope that we can hang on to, especially in the midst of difficulty and chaos.
For many, 2018 was an awful year. It was a storm that just never seemed to go away. And in a way it kind of was a rain storm that never actually left. Plus in a society that is so focused on being individualistic, it can be difficult to realize God’s presence in our lives, and believe that He isn’t some deity or king who is out of touch with reality. He knows our difficulty. He knows our pain. He knows our experiences are real and at times these storms are challenging. And that’s the whole point of why Christmas is so special and important.
This God that we believe in and follow, is not like some leaders of this world that are out of touch with the realities of life, especially for the little people, the peasant people like us. No, our God knew that the only way to fully know what life is like for us, was to become one of us. The only way for God to have any sort of credibility with us and prove that He really does care and understand, was to become one of us. As we move into the season of Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming Messiah, Christ the King Sunday reminds us that when all other earthly kings, rulers, and leaders fail us (and they will fail us), we do have a king who will never let us down. He will always uphold His promises. And through His earthly life, God knows what it feels like to be rejected, laughed at, and ignored. Jesus knows what it feels like to grieve the death of a loved one. What hunger, physical pain, and heartache feels like.
Our God is not out of touch with reality. Our realities are His realities. Our storms are His storms. And knowing that we have someone with us is comforting, is hopeful. Like finally seeing the flag at the end of a very long par five. Or finally getting a break while driving in the midst of a rain or snow storm. With God by our side, the storms will not last forever. Joy will come in the morning. Jesus, our king, overcame death and the grave to save us from our sins and bring us to eternal life where weeping and pain will be no more. And that is certainly something to hope for. Amen.
© 2018 Anthony Christoffels. All rights reserved.