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Sermon and Liturgy for Ordinary 34 - Proper 29 - Year C
("The Reign of Christ" or "Christ The King")
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79; Colossians 1:9-20; Luke 23:33-43
"The Lord Our Righteousness"

READING:  Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79; Colossians 1:9-20; Luke 23:33-43 
SERMON :  "The Lord Our Righteousness"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-or34su 955000
   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon for
   the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are found in
   the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".  
   Sources: Children's story based in part on the children's time for
   this Sunday in "The Whole People of God" 1995.  The background
   material on Christ the King was provided in a note by John
   Brownsberger, ( "Homily, 11-25-01 Christ The
   King" as sent to the PRCL List in 2001.

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)
* WORDS OF WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP  (Based on Hebrews 1:1-4)
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Long ago God spoke to our ancestors 
   many times and in various ways through the prophets.
P  But in these last days God has spoken to us through his Son, 
   through whom he created the worlds.
L  He is the one God has appointed heir of all things.  
   He is the reflection of God's glory 
   and the exact likeness of God's own being.  
P  He sustains all things by his powerful word.
L  When he had made purification for the sins of all, 
   he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
P  He was made greater than the angels, 
   just as the name God gave him is greater than theirs.
L  To Him, and to God the Father, 
   by the power of God the Holy Spirit, 
   belongs all our worship and our praise.  Amen.

- Welcome and Announcements    
- Birthdays and Anniversaries     
- Special Matters     
- Sharing Joys and Concerns

- As We prepare for Worship now - Katie Ann Anderson is going to sing
"Colours of The Rainbow" - after  which there will be a brief time of
silence and then our opening prayer...   

Loving and Gracious God, we thank you for all the beauty around us - for
all the people you have made - for all the colours we see - for all the
goodness we experience.    We thank you God for making us and for loving
us.   We thank for Jesus - in whose name we gather today - for his
faithfulness to you.  We thank you for how - though he was equal to you in
every way from the beginning of time - that he did not count equality with
you a thing to be held onto, but emptied himself  and took on human flesh
- and being one of us - died for us on the cross.  We thank Jesus - we
thank you Lord - and we pray that your Spirit might attend us and dwell
within us as we worship you now - you who are our Saviour and our King - 
our brother and our friend.   Amen.

* HYMN:  "Rejoice, The Lord Is King"                               - VU 213

CHILDREN'S TIME  "What Jesus Looked Like"
Theme:    Through Jesus We See God
Object:   Pictures of Jesus, Pictures of God   - none  
Source:   Whole People of God, 1995

For the last few months we have following Jesus through his life.  His
friends wrote down in the Bible the things that he said and did.  But do
you know there is one thing that they didn't tell us about Jesus - does
anyone have any ideas about what that is????

They didn't tell us what Jesus looked like.  The gospel writers didn't
tell us anything about his hair colour, his weight, his eyes, his skin, or
anything else.  We often have pictures of those we love - but no one had
cameras two thousand years ago - and no one that we know of drew a picture
of him.

What do you think that Jesus looked like???  Was he tall or short??  What
colour do you think his eyes were - blue or brown??    Was he skinny, or
more like me???   

Just as we don't have pictures of Jesus that tell us what he was really
like - so none of us have ever seen God --- but we do have a good idea of
what God is like.  Today's reading from the letter of the Apostle Paul to
Hebrew's says that "Christ is the Visible Image of the Invisible God". 
That means seeing what Jesus is like helps people see what God is like. 
But since we don't know what Jesus really looked like physically, what
Paul must mean is that Jesus shows us what God is like through his words
and actions.  What kinds of things did Jesus do???

That is what God is like -- If you want to know what God is like - listen
to what the bible says about Jesus - and you will know him as well as
anyone possibly can.  

   Dear Lord Jesus - We thank you for showing us - what God is like. 
   We thank you for your love.  Help us too, dear Lord - to show
   everyone what God is like.  - Help us to love one another - in the
   way you love us - and to bring more love and joy to our world. -

   Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
   come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this
   day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen

* HYMN (Sung by the children) 

          Instead of us all singing together - I think that
          there is a surprise right now - for you all to sing.

   St. Francis Cared For Animals
   (A Creation Hymn for Children)

   St. Francis cared for animals. 
   He loved the birds and trees.
   He loved each thing that God had made -
   the donkeys and the bees.

   And Jesus loved to be outside
   upon the lake and hill.
   He said God loves each wounded bird,
   each rose and daffodil.

   Just as the eagle soaring high,
   Her young upon her wings,
   So God gives care for humans, too,
   And all creation sings.

   The gift of God's creation is
   There's food and space to share.
   God gave the Earth to live upon
   With gentleness and care.

 Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
 and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear,
 Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God thy will to see.
 Open my ears, illumine me. Spirit divine! 

   (NIV)  "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the
   sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the
   LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people:
   "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have
   not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the
   evil you have done," declares the LORD. 

   "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the
   countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to
   their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number.
   I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will
   no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,"
   declares the LORD. 

   "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to
   David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what
   is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and
   Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be
   called: The LORD Our Righteousness."

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.   

RESPONSIVE READING: The Song of Zechariah  (Voices United 900)  

   The Song of Zechariah is a profound and important song - and it
   bears repeating often - and indeed in private devotional books it
   is often said every day of the year along with the Song of 

   (NIV)  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not
   stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge
   of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we
   pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may
   please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in
   the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to
   his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
   and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to
   share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For
   he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into
   the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the
   forgiveness of sins.  He is the image of the invisible God, the
   firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created:
   things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones
   or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and
   for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold
   together.  And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the
   beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything
   he might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his
   fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all
   things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace
   through his blood, shed on the cross.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.   

* HYMN:   "Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God"                       - VU 356

   (NIV)  When they came to the place called the Skull, there they
   crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other
   on his left.  Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know
   what they are doing."  And they divided up his clothes by casting

   The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. 
   They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the
   Christ of God, the Chosen One."  

   The soldiers also came up and mocked him.  They offered him wine
   vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." 

   There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING

   One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't
   you the Christ?  Save yourself and us!"  But the other criminal
   rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under
   the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what
   our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong." 

   Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 

   Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with
   me in paradise."

L  This is the gospel of our risen Lord.
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

SERMON: "The Lord Our Righteousness"

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and in the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in
   the thoughts that we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants
   listen.  Amen.

Today - this last Sunday of the Church Year - is the Sunday that is called
"Christ the King Sunday".

For most of us the image of Christ as King is perhaps troublesome. 
We live in a democracy after all - and though our democracy may be a
constitutional monarchy - our minds can't quite wrap themselves around the
whole concept of kingship, even when it is applied to Christ Jesus.

It may help us to appreciate what Christ the King Sunday is all about 
if we know a bit about how it came to be. 

The title for this Sunday was created fairly recently - in 1925 in fact -
by Pope Pius XI, and it entered into the Protestant Church during the
nineteen-sixties as more and more Protestant churches began to use the
Lectionary (or fixed schedule of readings) as a basis for proclaiming the
Word of God each Sunday.

Why did Pope Pius XI create this Sunday and suggest the readings that we
have just heard?

Quite simply because the church needed the image of Christ the King at
that moment in time.  

On its first celebration, Mussolini had been the leader of Italy for three
years; and a rabble-rouser named Hitler had been out of jail for a year. 
Hitler's Nazi party was growing in popularity, and the world lay in a
great Depression: a depression that would become far worse over the next
fifteen years.

In such a time, Pius XI asserted that, nevertheless, with all of those new
dictators and false values in the world, Christ is King of the universe.

The feast of Christ the King, then, was - and is - basically a language
thing, a symbol, a  metaphor, designed to be a statement of life's
fundamental question for broken times such as ours. 

The question - who exercises dominion over whom?  
And the question - Who or what rules our lives and how? 

If we pick up on that theme, 
then the feast of Christ the King can makes sense for us today.

Who rules our lives?  Who dominates culture?

The answer to the last question - who or what dominates our culture is - I
think - fairly obvious.  The forces of evil hold great sway both here in
Canada and around the world.

Greed, pride, selfishness, and fear motivates much of the world: 
   - in our corporate systems 
   - in our media - and especially our advertising media
   - in our economic and governmental systems, where what matters most is
       not whether you are right - but whose side you are on - who you
       voted for - or who you work for,
   - and in the hearts of many individuals - of those who think only of
   what is in it for them and for those they love, and rarely, if ever,
   about what is in it for those they don't know - or those they don't

The fruit of those forces that rule in our culture - and in every nation
of this world - are as obvious as the huge pile of rubble and debris that
sits in the heart of New York City today - as clear as the pictures of
starving children in Africa and Asia and that come to us on Television
each night - and as manifest as the number of homeless - beaten - battered
- abused - drug dependant - persons that live on our streets or are hidden
away in our middle class homes.

The pursuit of happiness - the pursuit of success - and the exaltation of
our families and our region or our country or our religious and political
thinking as the most important things in life - is fraught with danger.  

These are, in part, the things that led to Mussolini and to Hitler in the
20's and 30's  -and they are in part the things that feed the Bin Ladens
and the Arafats of our world today - the things that even now allow the
greatest power in the world to instantly raise 40 billion dollars to wage
war in a foreign land and 40 billion more to take care of the citizens and
city of New York - yet have great trouble finding the same amount to
provide housing and medical care to it's own citizens on a day to day and
year to year basis.

Who and what rules our culture?  

The answer is depressingly obvious.

And it feels even more obvious - and even more depressing 
the more we focus on all that trouble out there,
the more we look at all the negative stuff 
the more we experience the body blows of troubles within our own families
and the more we are slapped silly by the series of illnesses and deaths
within our community.

Think of them all.

It is has been tremendously difficult time for those of our community who
care for one another, for those who have been around Golden a while - and
who have gotten to know their neighbours.

In the last few months not only have we had to deal with the meaning of
September 11th; many folk have been taken from us - one after the other -
both young and old - folk like Hennie Higginson, Fred Demmon, John Crease,
Elizabeth Praskey, Signe Rande, Christina Minty, and now Andy Tetz.

You just get up off the floor from having been hit by one death or illness
or tragedy and another comes and knocks you down.

It makes you wonder who or what is in charge doesn't it?
It makes you wonder if it will ever end.   
If things will ever get better.

Hence this day - today - Christ the King Sunday.

Today we assert the gospel message  - the message that Christ is in

And we assert the gospel message that not only is Christ in charge - but
the peace that we need, the hope we need, can be found in him, now, today.
And more - that the peace our world needs - the peace our culture needs -
is coming through him, on the day that God has chosen.

But - as Jesus himself said to the disciples on the night of his betrayal,
the peace he gives - he gives not as the world gives.

And that is important - very important - as we, with Paul, name Christ not
only as the King of the Universe, but as King of our lives - of our

In the first reading today we heard that: 

   "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to
   David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what
   is just and right in the land.  In his days Judah will be saved and
   Israel will live in safety.  This is the name by which he will be
   called: The Lord Our Righteousness"

The word Righteousness conjures up for most of us an image of someone who
is holy and good, of someone who is following the laws of God - the laws
of moral correctness.  And that is indeed part of the meaning of the word

But when the word Righteous is applied to God in the Bible it is almost
always used in reference to the saving and healing activity of God.  

God shows us that he is righteous by delivering us from our enemies and by
making us whole.  God is righteous when God forgives us.  God is righteous
when he keeps his promise to be our God and to watch over us and protect

The righteous branch of David, the one who will be called "the Lord Our
Righteousness", is, of course, Christ Jesus: the one that Paul describes
in our reading from the letter to the Colossians as the image of the
invisible God; the one who through whom and by whom all things were
created; the one who is the head of the church, and the beginning and the
firstborn from among the dead.

Let me illustrate the nature of Christ's Kingship, this Lord of
Righteousness, with a story that some of you may have received by e-mail
this week.

It is the story of a little boy who wanted to do something good.  A fellow
like most of us.

   Six-year old Brandon decided one Saturday morning to fix his
   parents pancakes.  He found a big bowl and spoon, pulled a chair to
   the counter, opened the cupboard and pulled out the heavy flour
   canister, spilling it on the floor.  He scooped some of the flour
   into the bowl with  his hands, mixed in most of a cup of milk and
   added some sugar and an egg, leaving a floury trail on the floor,
   which by now had a few tracks left by his  kitten. 

   Brandon was covered with flour and getting frustrated.  He wanted
   this to be something very good for Mom and Dad, but it was getting
   very bad.  He didn't know what to do next, whether to put it all
   into the oven or on the stove, (and he didn't know how the stove
   worked!). Suddenly he saw his kitten licking the bowl of mix and
   reached to push her away, knocking the egg carton to the floor. 
   Frantically he tried to clean up this monumental mess but slipped
   on the eggs and landed on the floor - getting his pajamas white and
   sticky.  Just then he saw Dad standing at the door.  Big tears
   welled up in Brandon's eyes.  All he wanted to do was something
   good, but he'd  made a terrible mess.  He was sure a scolding was
   coming, maybe even a spanking. 

   But his father just watched him.  Walking through the mess, he
   picked up his crying son, and hugged him -  getting his own pajamas
   white and sticky in the process of loving him.  

That's how God - our Lord and King - deals with us and the mess we have
created.  That's how Jesus - our Lord and King - deals with us and the
mess we have created.   

He enters into our reality and takes our mess onto himself.
He loves us and forgives us - and shows us the way of true love - 
- the way that gives life - and that abundantly 
- the way of the kingdom over which he rules
- the way of the kingdom in which he serves.

Jesus provides us with an image of royalty totally different from the
world's image of royalty.

His is a total reversal of roles usually assigned to royalty and
servitude.  He refuses to be master of the world, the mighty monarch, the
spiller of blood.

Rather he is a king who serves others. 
He is the king who dies for others. 
He is the king who is ridiculed, scorned and mocked.
He is the king who is described in the Book of Revelation - not as a lion
   - the usual image for a king, but as a lamb - a crucified lamb upon a
   throne, with sword coming from his mouth by which he smites his

I don't know about you - but in all the years I have watched nature shows
or visited at farms I have never yet seen a killer lamb... how about you?  
I have seen lions take down prey - but a lamb?

Jesus our Lord, our Righteousness, is one who heals, who forgives, who
   one who refuses to take up the sword to protect himself 
       or call ten thousand angels to keep him from the cross
   one who even as he dies promises us, as he promised the repentant
   thief on the cross beside him, to remember us when he comes into his
       one whose word is his sword - rather than steel and space age
   one who conquers - not by killing others - but by allowing himself to
   be put to death.

I will tell you this - although Jesus as a King is a lamb rather than a
lion, he is a king I want to obey -
   a king I want to rule over my heart and my life
       a king - whose ways - whose kingdom - I want to have rule over my
       world and my culture.

Jesus is Lord - Jesus is King - precisely because he is not like the kings
of this world.

And it is his faithfulness and his obedience and his love which has
   conquered death and opened the way to eternal life to all who call
   upon his name - for all - not just for those who are good enough, or
   strong enough, or smart enough.

Who and what rules our culture?   
I think we know who rules right now.

But it will not always be so - because I know in here - and from the words
of scripture that the one who rules our hearts and our lives is stronger
than the one that rules this world.

Jesus told his disciples - and he told Pilate 
- "My kingdom is not of this world"
And that is true.  
But this world will be of his Kingdom one day. 

For now - let each of us hasten that day by becoming citizens of that
kingdom by focussing on its Lord - and living by his direction - his
values - his wisdom - here and now.  

If you must look into the darkness 
- and occasionally we must if we are to do the work of God,
then look at it with the light of Christ behind you and within you.

When the world strikes you - and then strikes you again, remember whose
you are - trust in him - pick yourself up - turn the other cheek - forgive
those who need forgiving - and proclaim once again that Jesus is Lord and
King and that his way is the way of life.

As you do you will find within you the peace that he has promised to give
to all who follow him.

Praise be to God
and Praise be to Christ Jesus our Lord: 
our King - our brother - and our friend.  Amen

ANTHEM:   "Down To The River To Pray"                 by Katie Ann Anderson

Good Lord - you are the one who first wore the starry crown - and you are
the one - the only one - who can show us the way...  As it has been sung
sweet Jesus - so we pray - Good Lord show us the way.  Show us - show our
brothers and our sisters - show our fathers and our mothers - show us
sinners and all us saints - show us and help us and give us your peace.... 
 Lord, hear our prayer....

Good Lord, with Paul we pray that you would fill us and all about us with
the knowledge of your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
- so that together we may live a life worthy of you and in every way
pleasing to you - a life in which we bear fruit in every good work, and
acquire strength and endurance and patience and a joyful heart - a heart
that gives thanks to you in every situation....  Lord, hear our prayer....

Good Lord, we pray for those who dwell in darkness today - and for those
who are afflicted by the forces of human evil and the schemes of the
prince of this world...  Lord, hear our prayer.

 We pray for all women who are oppressed and beaten, and forced to submit
to the men around them - both those in our land - and those in far off
nations.. Lord, hear our prayer.

We pray for the children of our world who hunger and thirst - and those
who have no home or place to call their own - that they may have bread and
drink for each day and a bed for each night...  Lord, hear our prayer...

We pray for our nation and for all who are in authority over us - and
indeed for all nations of our world - that their may be peace with justice
within them and between them ...  Lord hear our prayer...

We pray - for St. Andrew's United and your church around the world - that
we might show forth your kingdom and the fulness of the love of Christ
Jesus in all that we say and do.... Lord, hear our prayer...

And Lord, we pray for the particular persons and concerns that have been
raised before you this day - and those we know hold before you in our
hearts and with the words of our lips....
...  Lord, hear our prayer...

In your mercy, O Lord, you hear all our prayers.  We thank you and we
praise you for it and for all that you do - through Christ Jesus, our Lord
and our brother.  Amen.


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of

   We bring our offering to you O God and dedicate both it and
   ourselves to the work of Christ our Lord.  We pray that in
   obedience to your will that the dispirited may be heartened, the
   homeless housed, the hungry fed, and your name be praised, as we
   fulfill the ministry which Christ has called us to.  Amen

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Give Thanks"           - VU 179

* COMMISSIONING (unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go
   forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the
   body of Christ.

Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Jesus,
and may he who is our Lord and King 
   bless you with a heart of reverent and joyful obedience; 
may God our Father
   bless you with a mind that knows his truth and his glory; 
and may the Holy Spirit 
   guide and lead you on the way with power and love and wisdom,
till at last you experience the wonder of the inheritance that has been
prepared for you in the heavenly places - Amen..

CHORAL BLESSING: "Go Now In Peace"                                 - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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