Today we celebrate The Reign of Christ. This is a time to reflect back over the past year of the Church’s life and to give thanks for God’s Mission that we have been invited to participate in. We give thanks for God’s son Jesus as we stand on the threshold of the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Yes it is hard to believe that we have once again come full circle in the life of the Church. Next week we begin Advent and our time of waiting expectantly and patiently for God to come into the world in the flesh and reveal God-self to us again in the person of Jesus.
As we stand in this threshold of reflecting on a year that has past, and anticipating the next, it serves us well to reflect for ourselves and as a parish, who do we say Jesus is? What does he mean to us and how do we know Christ in our lives? These are indeed deep and philosophical questions that many a scholar has written many a book about. But at the core, at the personal 1:1 level in our lives, who do we say Jesus is? The fact that you and I are here today indicates that we have a personal connection to Christ and the Divine. How is Jesus reflected and connected to God? We are about to celebrate and live into the Incarnation where God comes to us in our world in the person of Jesus. What does that mean? More about that question in the weeks that follow.
As we reflect on these questions. I want to read a story. Perhaps this is one that you have read to your own children or grandchildren. Apart from it being a good story, I would like you to pay particular attention to the following questions: Who are you in this story, if anyone? What does this story tell us about our relationship with God?
Waiting for the Thursday Boat, by Robert Munch. (as best that Liz can remember) For the first time in his life McKeon, the best giant in all of Ireland got mad.
St. Patrick had come to Ireland, and he was throwing out all the snake and elves and other giants, and putting up Church bells.
McKeon thought, “I like the snakes, and I like the elves and I really like the other giants, I just don’t like St. Patrick!.” So McKeon went to find St. Patrick and give him a piece of his mind. He found St. Patrick putting up a Church bell at the biggest church in all of Ireland.
McKeon said, “I liked the snakes, I liked the elves, I liked the giants, I just don’t like you!”
St. Patrick said, “I was only doing what God wanted me to. It’s not my fault that God likes Church bells better!” “Well then, send out your God! I’ll kick in the knee, I’ll knock on the head, he’ll never recover!”
St. Patrick said, “God doesn’t work like that!” McKeon got so mad that he took the Church bell and threw into the ocean. Then he ran off and starting throwing all the Church bells in Ireland into the water.
One day St. Patrick found McKeon and said, “now you’ve done it, you’ve made God angry! God is coming on the Thursday boat.” “Great,” said McKeon, I’ll knock him on the head, I’ll kick in the knee, he’ll never recover!”
So McKeon decided to meet God and went to wait for the Thursday boat. The first boat that came in was very small, and in it was a small girl. McKeon looked sad, and the little girl asked, “why are you so sad?” McKeon said, “I was waiting for God, I’m going to kick him in the knee, I’m going to knock him on the head, I’ll turn him into applesauce!” The little girl said, “I’ve never seen God turned into applesauce before, do you mind if I wait with you? “Sure” said McKeon
The next boat to arrive was much bigger, and in it was a very rich man. “This must be God,” thought McKeon. The man was so rich that he wore beautiful clothes. He was so rich that he bought the ground he walked on. McKeon shouted, “Watch out God here comes McKeon!” and he jumped on the ship and fought with the rich man and all the people with him and the rich man was so scared that he ran off without buying the land he was running on. “that wasn’t God said McKeon.” “Maybe the next boat,” said the little girl.
The next boat to arrive was even bigger, it had lots of flags and on it was a very powerful person. He was so powerful that people carried him wherever he went. McKeon thought, “this must be God!” He jumped on the ship and twirled the man around and around in the air, until the man was so frightened that he jumped into the water and forgot to be carried! McKeon returned to the little girl, “that wasn’t God,” he said.
The next boat to arrive was the biggest yet. It was full of soldiers on horses, with lots of swords. The leader was dressed in a fancy uniform, with lots of medals. McKeon thought, “This. Must. Be God!” The leader was soooo important that he rode a horse everywhere he went. McKeon shouted, “watch out God, here comes McKeon!” McKeon jumped on the boat, grabbed the leader and twirled him round and round and then started to beat the other soldiers. In the end he threw them back on their ship and told them to go and fight a war somewhere else. “That wasn’t God, he was too easy to beat,” McKeon said sadly. “Well,” said the little girl, “that was the last boat.”
“I knew it,” said McKeon, “God’s not coming, he’s heard that I’m the strongest giant and he’s not coming.” “Maybe God doesn’t work like that McKeon,” said the little girl. “After all, you are the strongest and best giant in all of Ireland and even God knows that. Then she shared her lunch; some bread and fish with McKeon and they became the best of friends.
The next day the Little Girl found McKeon under his favourite tree. “McKeon, McKeon! St. Patrick has died and gone to heaven, and now he’s throwing all the snakes and elves and giants out of heaven and putting up Church bells!” she said. “That’s it!” said McKeon. He picked up the little girl and jumped so high that his head touched a cloud. Then he jumped so high that his head hit a star. Then he jump sooo high that he landed in heaven, right next to St. Patrick. “What are you doing here?” St. Patrick said. “I’m going to tell on you!” said McKeon. “Well I’m telling God on you!” Said St. Patrick “Let’s go find God,” said McKeon. So they went to the biggest house in heaven and knocked on the door. There was no answer. They went to the next house, knocked on the door, there was no answer. St. Patrick said, “what about that house?”
“the smallest one?” said McKeon
“Look,” said St. Patrick, it has angels out front, I bet God is there. So McKeon and St. Patrick went to the smallest house and when they got inside they saw… elves and snakes and saints and church bells, and right in the middle sitting on a chair…………..
The Little Girl.
She said, “Saints for hanging up church bells and Giants are for throwing them down, that’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s always going to be, so why don’t you two try getting along.” And then she laughed, and for a little girl she had an enormous laugh. She laughed until it shook mountains, and made water dance. McKeon is still throwing Church bells out of heaven, they become shooting stars, go out some night and look for one.
So what does this story tell us about the Reign of Christ? For me this story highlights how God comes to us, reveals God-self to us, in ways we least suspect. The God who reigns in our world is complex and dynamic. God meets us where we need God, not where we think we should find God. There is a difference. The reign of God is one that extends beyond time and place. It is a reign that has outlasted Kings and governments. While all other empires rise and fall at some point, God’s Kingdom reigns on.
Perhaps more importantly still The Reign of Christ and the Kingdom of Heaven is where all are welcomed and all needs are accommodated. God’s Kingdom and Christ’s reign is not a regime for the chosen few. Rather God’s Kingdom is where all find belonging and home. That includes the people we least expect. As the little girl said, “That’s the way it is, that’s the way it’s always going to be, so why don’t we try getting along.” I wonder if this is one way God’s Kingdom extends beyond time and place.
The Reign of Christ is about taking note and giving thanks for a God that shows up in our lives. A God who is interested in our lives and world. The Reign of Christ is about giving thanks to a God who is their for us at our beginning and who will be their with us at our end.