Christ the King Year A
Theme: The church is a sign of Christ’s reign
Let us pray.
Most holy, Lord God, we give you thanks for the gift of your Spirit led church; may we always be aware of our responsibilities as Christ’s representatives on earth and may we be ever mindful of the Holy Spirit’s presence, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let me suggest that you try something that never gets old or stale or unsatisfying. Do something for somebody truly in need.
Let me tell you about a man named Floyd. According to the standards of the world Floyd was nobody. Floyd traveled around the country looking for work at harvest time. Floyd had no home and no place to go. A couple invited him into their home and gave him a home-cooked dinner. Floyd said very little as they ate. The wife, Nancy, offered to wash his clothes for him but Floyd declined the offer. He picked cherries in the orchard next to their home that day and slept under the trees that gave him his livelihood.
Early the next morning Floyd returned to the couple who had shown him kindness. While he finished one last project in the orchard, Nancy, on an impulse, wrote him a letter telling of God’s love. Then she tucked it with a little cash into a New Testament. She found his backpack in the yard, and stuck the packet inside. She imagined him traveling that day looking for work and at the end of the day bedding down somewhere under the stars, weary and all alone. She was warmed by the thought of Floyd’s surprise when he discovered her note, the New Testament and the cash she had planted in his backpack.
This Christian couple never saw Floyd again. Four years later Floyd's sister wrote to them, telling of his death. As Floyd's sister was going through his few belongings she found the New Testament and the letter Nancy wrote telling of God's love. “They must have been very dear to his heart,” Floyd's sister concluded, “for he carried them with him until he died.”
It was such a simple gesture “a note, a Bible and a little cash” but little counts for a lot in the kingdom of God. The couple that ministered to Floyd gave an example of what it is like to live under Christ’s reign, the kingdom of God. We celebrate Christ’s reign at this time every year. Living under Christ’s reign entails action. Observing Christ the King day is not abstract. It is not something we observe without making a response.
In our epistle reading, St. Paul is writing to the Christians in Ephesus, the saints of Ephesus. Ephesus was one the major cities of the Roman Empire. It was big and very influential. It was located on the coast of the Aegean Sea in what is today Turkey. Ephesus was home to the central shrine of the goddess Artemis. Paul used Ephesus as a base of his missionary work.
Paul writes to the Ephesians from prison, though we’re not sure which of the many prisons he was in. Paul emphasizes his knowledge of the faith of the Ephesian Christians even though Paul lived there. Many if not most of them were undoubtedly personal friends of Paul’s.
When Paul remembers them in prayer, he thanks God for them. “The focus of the prayer is thanksgiving, reminding us that our prayers too should be centered in thanksgiving. Intercession without prior thanksgiving becomes ‘gimme’ prayers. If prayers shift to intercession without thanksgiving, the measure of prayer becomes its results rather than the goodness of God.”
“Prayer that flows out of a deep sense of gratitude is forceful. Our praying should be rooted in thankfulness. When so rooted, our prayer will be punctuated with thankfulness as is Paul’s. Not only was he thankful, he was thrilled—thrilled because he knew who God was and what God was doing.”
Paul asks God to give the Ephesian Christians the spirit of wisdom and discernment so that they will personally know God and that light will flood their hearts and they will understand the hope of God. Then they will discover God’s glorious blessings that they will share with all God’s people, like the couple that took Floyd in.
Paul wants them to know the mighty power that God has for us. It is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Christ is “in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever.” (The Message) “God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. (CEV) Christ is the king of all. No matter what other claims compete for our loyalty, our only ultimate hope is the in the one whom God has seated in heaven. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
“The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (The Message) No matter what powers threaten to destroy us personally or corporately, we see by faith with our enlightened eyes.
“The early Christians were post-Resurrection, post-ascension Christians. They knew the gospel story: a Jesus who had once been a baby in a mother’s arms—but He was not that now; a Jesus who had been a carpenter, a teacher, a companion, a friend—but He was not that now; a healing lover who mercifully blessed all He could touch, all He could see and hear and speak to—but He was not limited by time and space now; a self-giving suffering servant who hung on a cross, pouring out His life-blood and blood-love on our behalf—but He was not hanging there now.
“God had raised Him from the dead, but not only so; this Jesus had ascended and the curtain had gone up on a new act of the drama. Pentecost had happened. The Spirit of this Ascended One had been poured out on His followers and the church was born. The Ascended One had been given lordship over all ‘principality and power and might and dominion.’ His name was to be exalted over ‘every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come’ (v. 21). Everything has been put ‘under His feet.’”
“We live in a curious time when many people who are estranged from the church are still fascinated by Jesus. To them we need to make clear that the church is not the object of our faith. The gospel is, after all, the good news about Jesus Christ and what he means for our lives. Furthermore, at its heart the church is not an institution but a community, ‘God’s own people’ (v. 14), ‘among the saints’ (v. 18), and, indeed, ‘his [Christ’s] body’ (v. 23) on earth. To be a Christian is to accept what God has done for us in Christ, to be in Christ and thus united in a community with others in Christ.”
To accept what Christ has done for us is to share that gratitude in our lives and in the church.
We now pray: Gracious God and giver of all good gifts, give us the gifts of gratitude and generosity; may we be always thankful of your loving-kindness and presence and may we mirror that goodness in our actions toward others, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Text: Ephesians 1:15-23 (NRSV)
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your lovee toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 Godf put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Van Harn, R. (2001). The lectionary commentary: Theological exegesis for Sunday's texts (307). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.
Dunnam, M. D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 31: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 31: Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon. Formerly The Communicator's Commentary. The Preacher's Commentary series (156). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Dunnam, M. D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 31: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 31: Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon. Formerly The Communicator's Commentary. The Preacher's Commentary series (162). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.
Van Harn, R. (2001). The lectionary commentary: Theological exegesis for Sunday's texts (309). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans.
e Other ancient authorities lack and your love
f Gk He
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.