- Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
- Preacher: Fr. Dennett
- Music: Sarah leading a trio (vocals, drums, keys)
- Scripture: Michael (Revelation 12 and Psalm 2), Dcn. Andrea (John 18:33-37)
Songs of Praise
- Come People of the Risen King
- Victor’s Crown
- To Him Who Sits on the Throne
- Before the Throne of God Above
- Amazing Love (How Can It Be?)
Collect for the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Some services can feel like they are under attack. Yesterday’s worship felt like that. In addition to a lack of sleep for both the celebrant and the sound board tech, there were crises that called for the immediate response of our music team about 20 minutes before worship was scheduled to start. As we gathered to pray at 10, we were–all of us–in great need of the very thing we were celebrating: Jesus’ sovereign rule. So, we prayed. After resolving a minor computer challenge (what things doesn’t a celebrant do? I swear, they didn’t give us computer classes in seminary!), I gathered the congregation and invited them into celebrating the feast.
As we proceeded through the opening exercises–acclamation, confession, absolution, comfortable words, and the songs of praise, I was only aware that I wanted God to take over. My own two hours of sleep aside, I knew I didn’t have anything to offer for the congregation. So, singing was an act of faith that morning–in a way that it isn’t usually for me–I was singing because I needed God to act and to be present. Of course, our worship leaders had chosen songs that were directly addressing God’s activity all around. By the time we reached the third song, a prophetic word was forming in my mind. Not wanting to depend on my own sleep-deprived memory, I started writing it down. As we finished the chorus “To Him Who Sits on the Throne”, it was thoroughly solidified in my mind–a challenge. After allowing silence for anything else that others in the congregation may have received, I spoke the following:
The Kingship of Jesus is often something we use to feel strong, maybe even invincible. It can be a way of saying “we won’t be beat But the truth is we need the Kingship of Jesus because we are weak. Because we suffer. Because we aren’t invincible. And we need it because it’s a different kind of Kingship. Jesus’s crown of victory is a crown of thorns. His throne is a cross. In a moment of what the world’s powers and kings think is absolute defeat, Jesus actually demonstrates his authority—authority to lay his life down for the sake of the world, and authority to take it up again for the sake of the world. So, hold on to the Kingship of Jesus in your weakness—not because the cavalry is coming, but because in the place of weakness, you will be seated with Christ. What the world calls defeat, Jesus can bring about victory and redemption and rescue for each of us and for the world itself.
It’s been some time since I’ve received that kind of exhortation. It came with clarity and conviction, and to my mind, it addressed something we vitally need in our culture. We aren’t theologians of glory, but theologians of the Cross. We need the freedom to call things as they are. We need the freedom from God to see things as they are. As we prayed the Collect for the Day and continued with the Ministry of the Word, it became obvious through Fr. Dennett’s sermon that the message of God for us is about grace in time of need, provision in the wilderness, and all the upside-down ways that Jesus has marked His Kingship in contrast to the world’s values. For something we didn’t plan, the message from Revelation 12 suited the observance of Christ the King immensely.
Our participation in worship that declares allegiance to the Kingdom of God–the Creed, the Offering, the Ministry of the Table–has an expansive view. The awareness of opposition may make worldly minds circle the wagons, but in the Kingdom of God, Jesus widens the Table. During the liturgy (as the rubrics permit me to use appropriate words for invitation at the ministration of Communion), I offered this invitation from the Iona Community–
This is the Table, not of the Church, but of the Lord. It is made ready for those who love him, and those who want to love him more. So come, you who have much faith and you who have little, you who have been here often and you who have not been here long, you who have tried to follow and you who have failed. Come, because is the Lord who invites you, and it is his will that those who want him will meet him here.
As I prepared to offer that invitation, I was struck with a sensation that had my whole body quaking. The words were strong, with a holy purpose. And as I administered Communion, that shaking continued. I was thoroughly aware of the holiness of the task I had been entrusted with–feeding the citizens of the Kingdom of God, and of my own unworthiness for it. In the most literal sense, God is awesome and is worthy of acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. And I pray that our lives offer that in this week.