November 20, 2021
Pilate did not understand Jesus as a king. He didn't get it. It is important that we do recognize Jesus as the King that he is. Here is a bit of a fairy tale to help bring us to a better understanding.
Long ago in a land far away, a 15-year-old boy named John walked down the road in his small village. It had been a good day. He had been awakened by the pleasant, warm rays of the morning sun. And now, as the day was ending, he began looking for a place where he would sleep for the night. You see, the street was his home. He never knew his parents. Life was hard for 15 year old John. He then went to an orchard in the dark of the night to obtain a couple pieces of fruit, but, just as he reached and pulled a pear from the tree, a soldier came and knocked him to the ground. John was dragged off to jail for stealing.
Now high above the village was a castle with a king. He was mighty and well respected. But he lived with a great sadness. Many years ago, he had a beautiful baby boy. One day, however, there had been a great storm and his baby was lost. He and his staff had searched everywhere, and he was not to be found.
In his jail cell, John lay on the floor in the darkness; cold, hungry, and tired. He closed his eyes and, thinking of the fruit he had been caught stealing, said a prayer, and drifted off to sleep. Suddenly he awakened by men rushing into his jail cell. But they were not dressed as jailers or soldiers but more like royalty; especially one of them. He was wearing a flowing white robe and had his arms outstretched and he called to John, "Welcome home my son, welcome to my kingdom!"
The king told John all about how they were separated and how much he had loved John for all those years. For the first time in his life John felt the great peace and joy of being loved. [pause] Happier than ever before, all that John wanted to do was to serve his father the king. He prepared meals for him, and cleaned the castle, and the more that he served his King and his people, the more joy filled he became; the more John loved the King. The years passed by and one day John inherited the entire kingdom. And they all lived happily ever after.
Now that story about John, in many ways, is a true story. It is your story. It is my story. John wrote his own ending by deciding how he would honor his king. and each of us is writing ours; John received his king by loving and serving him and his people. How do you receive Christ the King? How do you choose to serve him? How do you inherit the Kingdom?
When it comes to receiving Christ here in church at Holy Communion, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, said 1700 years ago, "Make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King." That is, of course, how we receive Jesus in Holy Communion at Mass today. But how about in our every day lives? How do we receive Christ, our King when we are not here at Mass but out in the world?
Here is an example. We have parishioners, here at St. Andrew, who go into the city, right around the corner, to where people are living on the street. They bring them food to eat. More importantly, they listen as the people tell their stories. Stories of how they have become broken; of how they have become addicted to alcohol and drugs. Stories of large houses they once had in Williamsville and Orchard Park and jobs in high places. Some are people who have served our country in the military and have been damaged by seeing things during wartime that no one should have to see. And our parishioners go to them almost as if with their hands cupped and outstretched as a throne, to receive them as Christ the King.
But maybe that is not something you could realistically do. On Thanksgiving morning, we will gather here for Mass at 9am. At Offertory time, parishioners will bring canned goods and food for the poor up to the altar. What a great way to honor our King, and to begin Thanksgiving Day! In addition, you may honor our King by learning more about his birth at our Advent Sunday presentations. Or, attend Evening Prayer and Adoration on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm in our church.
Whatever your choice, ask yourself during the upcoming Advent season, "how will I choose to receive Christ, my King?"