Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Homily for Christmas Eve by Father Lee Nelson

“No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”

From the Gospel according to Saint John, I speak to you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.


It seems that almost every year, around Thanksgiving, the assault on Christmas begins.

Some have referred to this as the “War on Christmas.” There is this great fear that retailers are going to ruin Christmas forever if they have their way. And – if it’s not the retailers, well then it’s the ACLU or some other group hell-bent on despoiling our sacred feast.

There’s also the great scandal of secular seasonal greetings. No longer can one say “Merry Christmas” in the public square without drawing at least some indignation from an increasingly secularized public. Then the “almighty they” decided it would be best to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.” In a culture in which very little is sacred, very little is holy, this is yet another victory for Christ and His Church, for “Happy Holidays” means “happy holy days.” It is a recognition that there is something visibly special about these days.

But, the two skirmishes in the “War on Christmas” in the media this year were particularly notable.

The first involved a rabbi and an airport. The second involved a growing rash of abductions nationwide.

The first began when Rabbi Eleazar Bogomilsky of Seattle complained that there wasn’t a Menorah next to the Christmas trees at Sea-Tac Airport. Rather than granting his request, the airport simply took down all nine of their Christmas trees during the graveyard shift on a Saturday morning.

The Rabbi’s response was that this was simply not what he had asked for – and so upon hearing that he would drop a law suit against the airport, the airport put the trees back up, this time 16 of them. The concern was that the Jewish community would be seen as “the Grinch that stole Christmas.”

And now we hear from Olympia, Washington, in the statehouse, that a Menorah would be acceptable to the state, as well as Christmas trees, but a Nativity crèche would not be, as it would give a stronger impression of Government endorsement of religion. My guess is that they are concerned about visible images making rather blunt statements about invisible truths.

In the realm of nativity scenes, this year, there has been a rash of abductions. This brings us to the second news item.

All over the country, and even around the world, Jesus is being kidnapped and held hostage – his body snatched from nativity scene mangers, and being replaced with items such as beer cans and stuffed-monkeys. Sometimes, the mangers are simply left empty, but from Portland, Oregon, to San Jose California, to Salt Lake City, to Haltom City, to Alabama, to Upstate New York, Jesus is being stolen.

Some of these stories are brutal attacks against Jesus Christ and the Faith of the Church while some err on the side of comedy.

One news story had an account of a Jesus figurine being stolen a year ago, and returned early this month with a photo album of his exciting year of road-trips and camping trips, being buckled into a baby seat, eating ice-cream, and even making brownies. The family, of course, was glad to have their Jesus back.

But, why the thievery?

Maybe its just a big practical joke. But, maybe there is a more sinister motive. Perhaps the Washington statehouse is right. Perhaps the Christmas crèche is more than a set of figurines – perhaps it is a visible representation of great truth, even an exclusive truth – and therefore a scandal.

All this is to say that there is a great scandal when the invisible becomes visible.

Saint Boniface, an English missionary to the Germans in the 8th Century, is said to have chopped down an oak tree sacred to German pagans as they were preparing to make human sacrifice. As the tree split, inside was an evergreen sapling. Boniface said that it was the Tree of the Christ Child, pointing to heaven, and unlike the oak – always green.

He told these new converts to decorate and adorn the trees, bringing them into their homes to point them toward the heavens.

Later, it became understood that the red sap of the trees was symbolic of Christ’s blood.

If a Christmas tree were merely a tree, and not a symbol of religious truth, especially that of Jesus Christ, then there would be no scandal.

If the nativity scene were merely an artistic representation of some folks bundled up in some barn, and not representative of the birth of the Incarnate Son of God, the ACLU wouldn’t have anything to complain about, and there wouldn’t be the usual vandalisms and thefts.

Yes, it is a great scandal for the invisible to become visible.

Great enough of a scandal that a whole culture war is necessary, even if it is a mere “War on Christmas.”

When the invisible becomes visible, the prevailing notions of reality are challenged. No longer can one hide under the assumption that all that exists is matter alone – what can be touched, heard, perceived.

We Christians proclaim the invisible world when we proclaim that God is the creator of all things – things seen and things unseen. The Scriptures proclaim to us that the world of the invisible is eternal, and if it is eternal, surely it is greater than our visible world.

It is a world full of angels and creatures beyond explanation, but more so, it is a world of truth. For in this invisible world, there is no question, no shadow of doubt, it is a world which recognizes the truth of God to the point where not even demons fail to acknowledge it.

In the American mind, however, this world of invisibility is far, far away, in some remote heaven. It is so far away that it would take a great journey across space and time to make it here to the visible realm. Heaven is far. God is remote. Angels are “out there” or “up there.”

What we fail to realize is that the invisible is, in fact, not far away at all. It is merely hidden, shrouded or veiled, as it were, in mystery. It is no further from us than the thickness of a sheet of paper.

The great invisible world makes itself known to us in the visible by means of sacraments – outward and visible signs of what is inward and spiritual.

These are the breakthroughs, the tears in the curtain between two worlds, though which we see and perceive those eternal and invisible realities – even the invisible God Himself.

And we need these breakthroughs – they are the very substance of faith. The Letter to the Hebrews says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The invisible world yearns to be seen, yearns to be revealed. God Himself desires the same. But, He is completely invisible and more than that – he is too glorious to be seen. Even the highest rank of angels – the seraphim, hide their faces from His presence. To see God would mean our certain death, especially considering our sinfulness.

But salvation consists in faith – it consists of a vision of God who is invisible, a vision which comes by the piercing of that veil between our two worlds, yes a sacrament.

The Church teaches, without equivocation, that Jesus himself is the sacrament par excellence, that there has never, in the history of the world been a better means to perceive invisible truth and reality than Him.

As Saint Paul writes to the Colossians: “He is the image (or icon) of the invisible God.”

Tonight, beloved, we gather to behold the most perfect revealing of “things not seen” that has ever been.

And Saint John writes to us this night – “No one has ever seen God;

The only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”

God is invisible.

He is also unknowable.

Yet, he makes known through the created order His very nature, and through His very Son – grace and truth.

Saint John also says that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; We have beheld his glory.”

The scandal of the baby in the manger is that the Church makes the claim that He is grace and truth incarnate – that he is the Son of God who has come into the world, robed in human flesh.

On this night – the scandal is that all the rules are now broken – that the curtain between the visible and the invisible is now more thin than ever.

The angels hover – even in this very church, to look upon the Christ-child – they in their world of invisibility, we in our world in visibility.

On this holy night – we see God – not through a veil, not shrouded in smoke, not hidden in a burning bush, but in the face of a tiny baby boy. We hear Him as well, not in a voice from a cloud, or in the message of an angel, but in the cries of a child.

The glory of God falls upon mankind for the first time in ages and ages, not upon priests in a Temple, not upon prophets, but upon shepherds.

The rules are broken.

God in human flesh has been made known in Bethlehem.


“No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”

And this night, we in the Church behold Him, adore Him, and sing to Him. This is a cause for celebration.

For the veil has been taken away, the curtain torn – God has made himself known to us, taking upon himself our nature.

Piercing the darkness comes a tiny baby boy.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

… those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness on them has light shined.”

Light enough even to see God, to see His face.

There will be more.

This baby boy will grow up, he will live, he will teach, he will die.

But, for tonight – this is the true light, the light that enlightens every man, that has come into the world. To all who receive Him, who believed in His name, says Saint John, he gives the power to become children of God.

Children, born not of blood or of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Receiving the child Jesus makes us children of the Most High.

And this is little more than the salvation of our souls.

To see God.

Come let us adore Him.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent by Father Lee Nelson

“For God has ordered that every high mountain and the
everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may
walk safely in the glory of God."

From the Book of Baruch, I speak to you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

I first noticed it on a drive to Wisconsin.

I had decided to take a new route. Usually, I drove up through Oklahoma, Oklahoma City to Tulsa, then across to Joplin, Missouri, through Rolla, into St. Louis, and then up through Illinois, through Springfield and then into Wisconsin. I guess that I had simply grown weary of the same old things – the little annoyances – toll-roads, and all the signs in Missouri for a place called “Meramec Caverns.”

So, this time, I drove up I-35, through Oklahoma, into Kansas, then Omaha, Nebraska, then Iowa, then into Wisconsin.

What I noticed was that a drive of 1,118 miles was a lot shorter than 1058 miles. Of course, this phenomenon defies mathematical explanation. There is no way a longer drive can be shorter than a shorter one.

But, the difference was this – MOUNTAINS.

For, on the drive through Missouri, and I had begun to call it “misery,” I had to drive through the Ozark Mountains. I had to cross the Mississippi at St. Louis instead of little old Dubuque.

The flatness of Kansas, and northern Oklahoma, and Nebraska, and Iowa, more than made up for the Ozark Mountains – the ups and downs.

Plus, I-35 has a Starbucks every 75 miles all the way to Minneapolis.

And so a difference of 60 miles is completely worth it. Plus, there’s a stop in Madison, Wisconsin - which is a lot more fun than Rockford, Illinois. And – best of all – the gas is cheaper!

In a car, mountains are no big deal – it leaves us with a difference of about $25 in gas and a more soothing and caffeine-filled drive. But think about it on foot, with mountains, and rocks, and deserts, with carts and oxen, and the need to find food at every stop.

If I had to navigate Missouri in a horse and cart, well, no thanks, give me Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa.

It is no wonder then, that the Pioneers navigated Missouri by way of the Missouri river on barges from St. Louis to Kansas City rather than going through the mountains.

The real advantage to mountain-less travel is that you have a greater field of vision. In the mountains, you can see nothing but the mountain in front of you. But, in flat lands, you can see for mile upon mile. Those of you from West Texas can appreciate this.

“For God has ordered that every high mountain and the
everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up, to make level ground, so that Israel may
walk safely in the glory of God."

Our reading today from the Apocryphal book of Baruch comes from a time when the people of Jerusalem had been taken into exile in Babylon. The city of Jerusalem has been burned, and the Temple destroyed.

The priests are still present in Jerusalem, living on nothing, because the cultural elite – the breadwinners of Jewish society – have been taken into exile.

And Baruch is a man who had the foresight to take the vessels of the Temple with him to Babylon, so that, at the very least, they might not be taken by robbers.

We know archaeologically that this happened often. Many digs have found Temple vessels in caves high in the mountains of Palestine.

When in Babylon, they hear of the Temple’s destruction, the people are clearly in mourning for the Temple and for Jerusalem. Baruch takes the occasion to write four chapters of poetry, exhortation, and prayer before the people. Upon hearing what Baruch wrote, the people wept, fasted and prayed before the Lord.

Then, they took up a collection to send with Baruch to take with him, so that he might make a sacrifice on the altar of the Temple, which was left standing. He is to make a sin offering and a thank offering. He is to make a confession for the people in exile to the Lord in the Temple. He is also to bring with him the vessels which he had rescued from the Temple.

Our reading today comes from the very last words he spoke to the people in Babylon, and these words spark a movement to rebuild the city and the Temple. These acts are recorded in the Old Testament Books of Nehemiah and Ezra.

What is it that Baruch could have said to bring about mourning and weeping, fasting and prayer? What could he have said that would have brought about such repentance?

First, he acknowledges the sin of the people. Four times he says “we have sinned.” He exhibits before the people a spirit of brokenness and wretchedness. He acknowledges fully both his sin and the sin of the people.

He tells them:

“It was not for destruction
that you were sold to the nations,
but you were handed over to your enemies
because you angered God.
For you provoked him who made you,
by sacrificing to demons and not to God.
You forgot the everlasting God, who brought you up,
and you grieved Jerusalem, who reared you.”
[Baruch 4:6-8]

Therefore, when he asks God to show them His favor, he makes it very clear that it is for no reason of the worth of the people. He asks God to work and to hear their prayers for His own Name’s sake. He prays in Chapter 3: “Remember not the iniquities of our fathers, but in this crisis remember thy power and thy name.”

Third, Baruch weeps for the people himself. He weeps over their sin. He says to them:

“I have taken off the robe of peace
and put on the sackcloth of my supplication;
I will cry to the Everlasting all my days.

"Take courage, my children, cry to God,
and he will deliver you from the power and hand of the enemy.

For I have put my hope in the Everlasting to save you,
and joy has come to me from the Holy One,
because of the mercy which soon will come to you
from your everlasting Savior.

For I sent you out with sorrow and weeping,
but God will give you back to me with joy
and gladness for ever.”
Baruch 4:20-23

Here is a man who is not afraid to take up supplication for his people as a whole. He is not afraid to bear them on his back. But, he does not intend to pray for them from Babylon, no – he means to intercede for them from Jerusalem, 450 miles to the west.

So the mission of Baruch is twofold, he will intercede for those in exile in Babylon, and bring comfort and encouragement to those suffering in Jerusalem.

He writes:

“Look toward the east, O Jerusalem,
and see the joy that is coming to you from God!”

and again:

“Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height
and look toward the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east,
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that God has remembered them.

For they went forth from you on foot,
led away by their enemies;
but God will bring them back to you,
carried in glory, as on a royal throne.

For God has ordered that every high mountain
and the everlasting hills be made low
and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.”

Do you see what is happening?

Baruch is leaning upon the providence of God to provide in every way – including the removal of obstacles in his way to Jerusalem – both mountains and valleys. Because, in between Babylon and Jerusalem, there are several valleys, and one enormous mountain range. And he trusts that unlike the exile, which took place on foot, he will be carried, as if on a royal throne, back to Jerusalem.

His mission is clear – he is to make sacrifice for the sake of the people in the ruins of the Temple, and he is to make a confession for them. In addition, he is to bring aid to the priests, to comfort and encourage them.

So, why all the hype about this small-time, Apocryphal figure?

Because John the Baptist, in preaching repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins nearly directly quotes Baruch as he preaches in the region of the Jordan, about 20 miles from Jerusalem.

He says: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every
mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways
made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Yet, both quotations can also be found in Isaiah, Chapter 40, contemporary with Baruch, when the people are told to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Why? Why this talk of a highway? Why the urgency? Why the appeal to make the path straight and flat?
The reason is simple – whenever Israel is gathered back to Jerusalem, to the promised land, it is for one reason – to worship. And it is a cause so urgent, a thing so vital, that Our Lord rushes to call us to it. He comes to this earth “seeking worshippers.”

Moses takes the people out of Egypt so that they can worship. Baruch is sent to Jerusalem to worship. Ezra and Nehemiah bring the people out of exile to worship.

And now, John the Baptist stands in the Jordan river calling the people to repentance, confession, and baptism, so that they may be ready to worship the Savior of the World when he comes.

Notice what Baruch, Isaiah, and John the Baptist all say – the removal of mountains and filling-in of valleys is the work of God and God alone. He does not do it for our sake, but for His sake. All that he requires of His people is repentance and worship.

As we look across the desert and mountains to the Holy City Jerusalem, our vision is obstructed by mountains and valleys. You might be able to think of the mountains or valleys which obstruct your view and your way.

How high those mountains can be! The sins that we cling to, the addictions, and the petty-ness. Our pride and self-dependence. Our God desires to topple them into the sea, to remove the barriers.

And the valleys! Our despairs and our longings. Our feelings of doubt and worthlessness. Our God desires to fill in the valleys, to put us on level ground.

The good news is that we cannot topple mountains and fill in valleys by our own strength – it is the work of God alone.

What is given to us is the work of repentance and worship, little things to say the least, but what big things God can do with them!

This Sunday, I exhort you to two things.

First, to Confession – the sacrament of repentance and reconciliation. The enemy positively loathes confession. Like Baruch, take up the work of making your confession before Almighty God, trusting Him to take away your sins.

Father Crary and I are hearing confessions during this season of Advent starting at 9:40a.m. on Saturdays. This is the point where you make your choice – navigate the mountains by your own strength, putting your soul and life in peril, or offer the mountains to God and walk on flat land.

Second, to worship.

Step into the chapel if you have a few minutes during the week and spend time with Our Lord and Savior.

Also – make the time to attend a weekday Mass. It is an occasion of sure and certain grace which will aid you in your journey to meet Our Lord, to prepare for His coming.

“I am the bread of Life,” says the Lord “he who comes to me shall not hunger.”

These two sacraments, the sacrament of reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, issue forth the merits of Jesus Christ for righteousness and mercy.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Come let us adore Him.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son , and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sermon for Christ the King by Father Lee Nelson...

“His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.”

These words from the Book of the Prophet Daniel, I speak to you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.

“It’s good to be king, if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give 'em a smile
It's good to get high, and never come down
It's good to be king of your own little town

Yeah, the world would swing if I were king
Can I help it if I still dream time to time

It's good to be king and have your own way
Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day.“

Not that I cite the rock star Tom Petty as an authority, but he does point out the dreams of many of us.

Men often tend to think about what life would be like if they could do anything, think anything, say anything.

“If I were president of the company…”

We often talk about our homes as our castles, and our wives as our queens. If only we were a bit more chivalrous.

I must admit to having said on a number of occasions – if I were the bishop. A friend of mine likes to say it another way “when I’m the bishop.”

Women might think about it a different way, perhaps about being princess for a day, girls looking forward to their wedding day, and women looking back on that glorious day, before the kids and the mortgage and all the rest.

We all want to believe exactly what Tom Petty tells us:

“It’s good to be king and have you own way – Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day.”

But, none of us are kings, none of us are queens. In fact, it is doubtful that very many of us have lived under their rule. And, my guess is that if you asked them, they would say they almost never, ever, get their own way, let alone getting a feeling of peace at the end of the day.

The problem is that being a king has very little to do with total power and authority, it has very little to do with having one’s own way.

Most Kings, in fact, never really wanted to be king anyway – they’re kings – not because they wanted to be, but because they are. Throughout history, kings have become kings, not because of ambition, but because they were born into it, or because the people demanded that they be put on the throne.

So, we can say so far that a king is a king by right, usually of birth.

But, what is a king?

The English word for king simply means what we’ve said before – one who is descended from noble birth.

The Latin word, however – “REX”, comes from the word regere, which means “to keep straight, to guide, to lead, and to rule.”

It is not enough to merely be king, a king should be kingly, and in this, it is the king’s authority and prerogative to keep the kingdom and its subjects on the straight and narrow, to guide them, to lead them and to rule over them.

Kings who are not kingly wind up being tyrants and oppressors of the people.

Good kings know how to truly lead. Very rarely will you find a good king in history who does not lead his armies into battle himself. He leads, he does not push. He leads by example – his example of courage, of wisdom, of moderation, and of justice.

The corrupt king forces his armies where he will not go himself, the good King leads his people to where he already is.

The corrupt king is an oppressor – he crushes the people for his own gain – he does not care for them and their well-being – he does not love the.

The good King rules over his people, not as an oppressor, but as a benefactor – one who wills and works for their good. He denies himself.

So, as catchy as Tom Petty’s lyrics are – the king does not have his own way and peace at the same time. It is rather through self-denial that the king can have peace in his kingdom.

“To him was given dominion and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.”

The words of the prophet Daniel describe a vision he has of the end of days. In this vision, he sees the Court of Heaven, the Ancient One seated on his throne. The beast is killed, and all evil is put to an end. Then, Daniel sees “one like a human being, coming with the clouds of heaven.” This man is presented to the Ancient One, and to him is given everlasting kingship and dominion.

Who is this man?

Daniel did not know of the Messiah, he merely expected Him.

He is rather the one who has the Divine and human birthright – one who is both Son of David, and Son of God. He is the one who in one person is both perfect God and perfect man.

Thus, it is no coincidence that the Gospel writers Luke and Matthew take such great pains to establish the genealogy of Jesus Christ, whom they believe is the King of David’s line, as well as being whom they claim he is for the rest of their Gospels, the Son of God. Matthew proves that Jesus of Nazareth is, by divine right, the King of all Israel.

But, that is the easy thing to prove, isn’t it?

As we have already said, genealogy – while it may make a man a king – it does not make him a good king, let alone kingly.

What Matthew spends the rest of the Gospel doing is showing that Jesus Christ is that very thing. This is done by Jesus proclaiming, not himself as king, but the “kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, a treasure hidden in a field, a pearl of great price.”

In this kingdom, the first are last, and the last first. It belongs to little children.

The kingdom is described through parable after parable, in which Jesus describes how that kingdom will be, and how it is.

In so doing, he describes his own kingship.

On this Feast of Christ the King, let us focus on how Christ is the King.

We have said that the King is to keep the kingdom on the straight and narrow. This is the part of kingship which deals with order, discipline, and justice.

The King establishes the law. And Jesus Christ, the divine law giver, establishes the divine law, writing it on the hearts of men. The important commandments you know: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heard , and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

He who acknowledges Christ as King pays homage to him by keeping His law, he is obedient. No good citizen observes only the laws that are convenient, or the ones he likes, he keeps all of them. This means that the subject of Christ the King cannot claim loyalty as a subject by being obedient in one regard and disobedient in another.

He cannot love God while committing adultery. He cannot love his neighbor while not observing the Sabbath.

Christ the King establishes order through His giving of the law, we see this in the Sermon on the Mount – new commandment after new commandment, Jesus expounding the commandments with authority to do so.

Christ the King also disciplines. The word “discipline” comes from the Latin for “student” – discipulus. The word essentially means keeping the students the students and the teacher the teacher. Have you ever been humbled or taught a lesson? You have been disciplined. Take heart, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says that this means that God loves you! Discipline, from the perspective of Christ the King, is for your good, to keep you in his care.

The next part of keeping the Kingdom on the straight and narrow is the establishment of justice. Isaiah writes that the Messiah “will not fail or be discouraged until he has established justice in the earth.” The biblical conception of justice has little to do with righting wrongs or legal justice. It has everything to do with charity. What Isaiah means is that the Messiah will care for the poor, for the oppressed, for the widow, and for the orphan. For those of us who are rich, that should leave us at least in some wise, fearful of the Kingdom of Christ. Christ the King does not show favor to the rich – he shows no partiality – but He will care for the least, the lost, and the lowly. This is what good kings do!

Next, a king is a leader.

We have said that leadership is not all involved in pushing – making someone go where you are not. It is rather consumed with bringing others to be where you are. Was not this the patter of Jesus in his earthly life? Did he not give invitation to his disciples to walk with him, to be with him, to live in his way?

Jesus Christ is a King who calls. He does not call anyone to be where he is not. He says, “when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.” If you struggle with knowing where you are called to be, know this, Christ the King is a leader – He calls his people to be where He is.

But, it is more than that. Jesus Christ takes upon himself full humanity – He is tempted, he has hunger, he struggles, he prays, he suffers, he dies, is resurrected, and ascends to the right hand of the Father. In life and in death, we can know that He has been where we are, and He has triumphed!

He calls us to take on His character, given to us in grace, and to triumph with Him.

The most important part of kingship is this, the king does not say: “It’s good to be king, and have your own way, get a feeling of peace at the end of the day.”

No, the king gives of himself.

He empties himself.

He does not have his own way. On the night before he dies, he says to the Father, “not my will, but thine.” And it is the will of the Father that He be handed over to the hands of sinners. He does not have his way.

They crown him, not with gold, but with a twisted ring of thorns. He does not have his way.

They wrap him in a purple robe, and he doesn’t say with Tom Petty, “It’s good to be king, if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give 'em a smile” The robe clings to his bloodied back, absorbs His precious blood.

His throne is not a throne of dignity, it is a throne of shame. His throne is the cross, and above it is written “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” or in Latin, Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, from which we get the initials I-N-R-I.

There He dies, on his throne of shame, crowned with thorns, emptying himself for the good of the people.

Yet, “his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.”

He will reign into eternity, Christ the King.

Come, let us adore him.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.