Christ is a Cosmic Event!

She had no family. She lived alone. For the purposes of this sermon I will call her Sophia. Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom and Sophia certainly revealed wisdom to me. I became her pastor in a round-about-way. Sophia knew somebody who used to be a member here and when the doctors told her that she was dying Sophia’s friend thought she ought to have a pastor.  So, I was summoned to Sophia’s bedside. I was new at this pastor stuff and I was afraid.  I had been told that Sophia only had a few weeks before the cancer would take her. To be present to a stranger when they are so close to death is a daunting task. No time for gentle hello’s, or warming up to one another, just a long, painful and sometimes awkward good-bye.

I went to Sophia’s bedside every day. Some days, when she was able, the questions just tumbled out of her. She wanted to know what I believed. No pat answers or trite platitudes if you please, just the facts. I liked her no-nonsense approach even though I knew that the meager facts that I possessed might not sustain us on our journey.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that Sophia had spent a great deal of time in the church. Her parents saw to it that she was raised in the church, but a lifetime of tragedy and heartache had led her far away from the faith she’d grown up with. But as death drew near, she longed for the certainty of her youth. She’d like to believe. It would be nice to think that there would be a place for her, not exactly heaven per se but someplace heavenly, perhaps like Paris in the springtime. Sophia so loved Paris in the springtime, if only heaven were full of cafés, or patisseries where she could while away the hours talking with others who appreciate the finer things of life.  Life? Sophia spoke the word “Life?” as if it were a question. Life?: Would there be life beyond death? She’d like to believe so. Continue reading

Preparing to Preach or Not to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

cosmic christI usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event that takes me far away from the pulpit on Reign of Christ Sunday. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east nor west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But merely changing the title fails to get  beyond the struggles I have with this festival of the church year!!!!

Born in an age that was birthing fascist regimes, this particular festival of the church clings to it’s christian imperialist past. Instituted in 1925, by Pope Pius XI,  (you can read the full proclamation here) the festival was designed to remind the world that Christ is the King of the World. The irony of proclaiming Christ as “King” when the life of Jesus of Nazareth positively denies “kingliness” seems lost on the church. The appropriateness of asserting Christ over the religions of the world lacks the kind of humility embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So, this year I am not prepared to celebrate Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday. Instead, we will take a leaf out of Matthew Fox’s book and craft our worship around the theme of the Quest for the Cosmic Christ.

Cosmic ChristYears ago, long before I ventured to seminary, Matthew Fox’s book Original Blessing opened me to the wonders of Creation Spirituality. So, I eagerly worked my way through his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. I confess that my first reading of Fox’s tome left me in the dust of my own lack of understanding of traditional Christology. But even back then, without the benefit of theological training, I sensed something of the MYSTERY that I had always trust Christ to BE. I have returned to Fox’s work many times over the years and over and over again I have discovered a WISDOM that moves me beyond the limitations of the historical Jesus toward a more holistic vision of Christ, which like Fox I believe, has the potential to move us to a more wholistic relationship with Creation. I trust that the WISDOM of the Cosmic Christ will lead us into the Season of Advent so that we can be about the work of birthing the Cosmic Christ.

Ruled By a Power Greater than Fear: a sermon for Jesus the Christ Sunday

fearnotSince 1925, the last Sunday of the church year has been celebrated as Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. This year at Holy Cross we celebrated “Jesus the Christ Sunday” with readings from Galatians 3:26-28 and Luke 23:33-43.

Listen to the sermon here

Yesterday, my Auntie died. Barbara was a kind woman. A good woman. A woman who welcomed me into her home even though we met long after the marriage that tied us together as kin had ended. A woman who welcomed me into her home even though she could scarcely afford to take care of herself and her two children. A good woman who chose to be hospitable, kind, and welcoming, when it would have been perfectly acceptable for her to send me on my way.

I was a teenager when I first met my Auntie Barb. I was doing what a lot of young people have done since time began. I left the safety of my home to travel the world. I didn’t have much money, just a back-pack on my back, a few dollars in my pocket and all the confidence of a nine-teen year-old, looking for adventure. Barbara must have been in her late forties when I arrived on her doorstep. Her marriage to my uncle was ending and she was struggling to make ends meet. Her two children, my cousins were just kids twelve and fourteen; demanding all the things that kids have always demanded of their parents. Barbara could barely afford to put their food on the table, and yet when I arrived on her doorstep, Barbara opened her door, invited me in, and took me on as one of her own. Her many kindnesses to me, came from somewhere deep inside of her that said, no matter how tough my own life is, no matter how little I have to give, I choose to give, I choose to be kind, I choose to open my door to welcome, I choose to be hospitable. My Auntie Barbara died yesterday, and the lives that she touched are sorely grieved at her passing, but the world goes on. So, what does it matter that Barbara choose kindness when there were so many other less costly options open to her?

Today, in churches all over the world, Christians are celebrating Christ the King Sunday or in as those churches that try to be more inclusive in their use of language, call it, the Reign of Christ Sunday. It is the last Sunday of the Church year and since 1925, the last Sunday of the church year has been used to declare that Christ Reigns; that despite what the world says, Christ and not the rulers of this world reigns supreme. It is no coincidence that Christ the King Sunday began in 1925, by the decree of Pope Pius the 11th. You see in Italy in 1925, there was a king other than Christ. ll Duce, Benito Mussolini rode the crest of fascism to become the supreme ruler of Italy in 1925, declaring himself the heir to the Roman Empire.   Il Duce declared that the fascist state of Italy was born out of the eternal need of the Aryan and Mediterranean races to ensure the purification of their people. Christ the King Sunday was established in defiance of Il Duce.   The church chose to insist that Christ and not racism ruled supreme. It wasn’t the first time that the followers of Jesus insisted that something other than fear would rule their lives. From the very beginning the followers of Jesus insisted that Jesus and not Caesar is LORD. The very first creed was as simple and as complicated as that.            Jesus is LORD. Jesus rules not Caesar. This simple and yet complicated creed, was enough to get you killed in the first century. And yet, people chose to insist that the ways of Jesus would rule their lives and not the ways of the empire.    So swift and harsh was the reaction of the Roman Empire to the rebel claim that Jesus rules, that hundreds and thousands of Jesus followers were crucified for insisting that there was another way to live; a way to live free from fear.

As the followers of Jesus were persecuted for living in the hope that love and not hate offered a better way, it became more and more dangerous to confess that Jesus is LORD, and so the rebels developed ways of recognizing one another that set them apart from those who lived in fear of the powers of the Empire. The Ichthys, the symbol of the fish arose as a way of identifying those who chose love over fear. Ichthys the symbol of the fish was adopted by the early followers of Jesus because the Greek word for fish, ICHTHYS was an acronym for the word fish. The first letters of the Greek words Jesus Christ Saviour of the World, spell the Greek word for fish. The symbol of the Ichthys was simple to draw; it could be traced in the dirt, quietly so the authorities would not notice, the same authorities that insisted that Caesar was the saviour of the world.

Quietly, defiantly, the followers of the way, the way of the one who first called the fishers from Galilee, the rebel Jesus of Nazareth, who dared to suggest that love was more powerful than fear, chose to identify themselves with the symbol of the fish.       It wasn’t until 364, when Constantine co-opted Christianity as the religion of the Empire that the Cross usurped the fish as the symbol of Christianity. The adoption of the cross, the instrument of state execution was an act of defiance. The most fearful symbol of Roman oppression was transformed from an instrument of torture into a symbol of torture and death’s inability to kill hope. Where once the Roman Empire had used crucifixion to terrorize the peoples they had conquered, the very people they conquered used the sign of the cross to declare that hatred could not kill love.

The forces of hatred over and over again have used fear to drive out love. Over and over again, people have found ways to resist hatred in spite of their fears. History is littered with stories of leaders who have insisted that the only way to survive is to play to our fear. Fear mongering is nothing new. Fear mongering has often tried to dominate the hearts and minds of people. During the darkest days of the second world war, when the fascist regime of Germany’s Third Riche rose to power they did so, by playing on the fears of the German people. But despite the fearsome methods of the loathsome fascists, there were those who continued to choose not to be ruled by their fears.

There are all sorts of stories of those who resisted insisting that fear would not rule their lives. There is a story of quiet resistance that happened Norway after the Norwegians were defeated by the Nazi’s. In the darkest days of the German occupation some Germans, adopted the symbol of the paper clip, worn in their lapel pockets as a symbol that hatred would be defeated. As powerful and as frightening as those dark days were, there were those who choose not to be ruled by fear. A symbol as innocuous as a paper clip, declared that love and not hate would rule the day.

Once again there are those who seek power by playing to our fears. Symbols that we thought had been banished to the pages of history are being drawn on mosques and synagogues all over the world. Just this past week, in Ottawa and in Toronto Swastikas have declared that we should be afraid and let hatred rule. Once again there are those who choose not to let fear rule. Safety pins are appearing everywhere declaring that despite the best efforts of those who choose fear and hate as their rulers, hatred will not be allowed to rule those who choose love. Something as innocuous as a safety pin has become a symbol of hope as people declare themselves safe places for those who are being oppressed.

The human spirit is an amazing and fragile work of beauty. The human spirit can and is often crushed by fear and hatred. But the human spirit can also be restored and empowered by love. We can choose to live in fear, or we can choose to live in hope. Our fears can feed hatred. Our hopes can feed love.

For those of us who seek to follow the teachings of the one whose love could not be conquered by what at the time appeared to be the most powerful Empire on earth, symbols like the fish, the cross, a paper clip and a safety pin point to a way of being in the world that moves us beyond our fears so that love is empowered. The symbols in and of themselves are nothing really, just signs pointing to something beyond the powers that be, to something capable of giving life to love.

Sometimes the horrors of our history are so overwhelming that we begin to fear that fear itself with conquer us. Sometimes, in the face of the enormity of our fears, all we need is something simple like a sign, or a symbol to point us beyond our fears so that love can triumph over fear and hatred. Sometimes that sign comes in the form of a fish, a cross, a paper clip, or a safety pin, and sometimes that sign comes in the form of an open door, a welcome, a hot meal, a cup of water, a warm embrace, or the presence of a friend or ally.  The symbol itself is not much in and of itself; insignificant really in the grand scheme of things, but more powerful than the most potent rulers. When you think about it, Jesus himself is but a sign, a symbol pointing beyond himself to the most potent thing in all of creation, the power of love over fear.

My Auntie died yesterday. Hers was an insignificant death in the grand scheme of things. But the love she embodied is more powerful than death. The love she embodied lives on in all the lives she touched. We can live into our fears or we can live beyond our fear. We can be ruled by those who use fear to rule or we can be ruled by a power greater than all our fears. Choose LOVE and live beyond our fears. Choose LOVE.

           

 

Home in the Love We Call God – a sermon for Jesus the Christ Sunday- Luke 15

prodigalRather than the recent church tradition of celebrating the Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday, on the last Sunday of the church year, we at Holy Cross celebrate our complex relationship with Jesus the Christ. readings include the parables of the lost from Luke 15:1-32. 

Listen to the sermon here

A number of years ago, I’d only been doing this job for a couple of years, immediately after a worship service, I went over to the hospital to visit one of you. I was all decked out in my Sunday best, so I very much looked the part of a pastor. Even though, I still felt more than a little like an impostor. I’ve been at this for over sixteen years now and sometimes I still feel like I have so much to learn before I’ll feel like a real pastor. But it was Sunday and even though the collar around my neck often felt like it might choke the life out of me, it proclaimed to everyone at the hospital that I was there in my professional capacity. I enjoyed a very pleasant visit with one of the seasoned members of this congregation who went out of their way to ensure that we both enjoyed the visit.

As I was leaving the floor a woman beckoned me over to the visitors’ lounge, “Could I please help her.” I sat down beside her and listened to her tale. When you’re wearing a clergy collar people presume all sorts of things about who you are. This distraught young woman presumed that I was a competent professional who could accomplish what she could not. She told me that her father from whom she’d been estranged for many years was dying and needed a priest. They’d called both the Roman Catholic churches in town and none of the priests would be available for a few hours. She was afraid that that might be too late for her father and wondered if I was willing to administer the last rites.

I hesitated. The young woman presumed my hesitation was because I was obviously not a Roman Catholic priest. She asked me, “Protestants do have last rites don’t they?”

I refrained from telling her that since Vatican Two Roman Catholics no longer have last rites. Instead I simply told her what I had been trained to tell her during my scant few months of training as a hospital chaplain. Which was that I’d be happy to spend some time with her father. The young woman persisted, “Can you give my Dad the last rites? Please!”

I nodded and asked her for a few details about her Dad. Armed with only some basic details and the fear that I was in way over my head, we entered the room and the daughter announced to her father that this nice Lutheran priest had come to give him the last rites.

With that, the young woman slipped out of the room and I was left with a man not much older than myself, who looked very much worse the wear.

I introduced myself and explained that none of the local Roman Catholic priests were available for a few hours and that I would be happy to stay with him until one of the priests arrived.

“You’re a priest?” the man in the bed looked unconvinced.

I assured him that I was indeed a priest although in the Lutheran church we call priests pastors. I was babbling. I do that when I’m nervous.

He told me that he’d never met a priest who was a woman. He’d met lots of priests who acted like old women, but never a priest who was actually a woman. He reached out and took my hand, “Can you hear my confession?” Continue reading

Jesus Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kin-dom – a sermon for the last Sunday of the Church Year

rememberTraditionally the festival of Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. At Holy Cross we celebrate Jesus the Christ Sunday. This sermon explores our complicated relationship with the Jesus we meet upon the cross who shared our human desire to transcend death.  

Listen to the sermon here:

She had no family.  She lived alone. For the purposes of this sermon I will call her Sophia. Sophia the Greek word for wisdom. I became her pastor because she knew somebody who used to be a member here and when the doctors told her that she was dying she thought she ought to have a pastor. I was summoned to her bedside. I was afraid. I had been told that she only had a few weeks before the cancer would take her. To be present to a stranger when they are so close to death is a daunting task. No time for gentle hello’s, or warming up to one another, just a long, painful and sometimes awkward good-bye.

I went to Sophia’s bedside every day. Some days, when she was able, the questions just tumbled out of her. She wanted to know what I believed. No pat answers or trite platitudes if you please, just the facts. I liked her no-nonsense approach even though I knew that the meager facts that I possessed might not sustain us on our journey. It didn’t take me long to figure out that she’d spent a great deal of time in the church. Her parents saw to it that she was raised in the church, but a lifetime of tragedy and heartache had lead her far away from the faith she’d grown up with.  But as death drew near she longed for the certainty of her youth.  

She’d like to believe. It would be nice to think that there would be a place for her, not exactly heaven per se but someplace heavenly, perhaps like Paris in the springtime. She so loved Paris in the springtime, if only heaven were full of cafés, or patisseries where she could while away the hours talking with others who appreciate the finer things of life.

Life, would there be life beyond death? She’d like to believe so.

One morning, I stopped by Eduard’s bakery on Main Street and picked out the most European pastries I could find, then I swung by Starbuck’s and had them grind some fresh beans. As I brewed the coffee in Sophia’s kitchen, the aroma wafted up the stairs and she shouted down and asked me to heat up some milk so that we could have lattes. It was as heavenly a breakfast as we could muster and our conversation took us back to Paris and a springtime before I was born when Sophia was young and beautiful and the men fell at her feet.

Some of her stories actually made me blush. We laughed and laughed and laughed until we cried. After Paris, we travelled to London by way of some excellent fish n’ chips and a few glasses of cider. It was cold and wet in London and Sophia managed to complete her nursing studies even though a certain young man begged her to give up work and come and be his love. Over sausages and beer, we travelled to Hamburg where Sophia fell in love with an orphanage full of refugee children. By the time our conversations took us to India, Sophia was too ill for a curry so we sipped tea as we wept over her stories of poverty and disease. Continue reading

Preparing to Preach or Not to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

cosmic christI usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event that takes me far away from the pulpit on Reign of Christ Sunday. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east nor west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But merely changing the title fails to get  beyond the struggles I have with this festival of the church year!!!!

Born in an age that was birthing fascist regimes, this particular festival of the church clings to it’s christian imperialist past. Instituted in 1925, by Pope Pius XI,  (you can read the full proclamation here) the festival was designed to remind the world that Christ is the King of the World. The irony of proclaiming Christ as “King” when the life of Jesus of Nazareth positively denies “kingliness” seems lost on the church. The appropriateness of asserting Christ over the religions of the world lacks the kind of humility embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So, this year I am not prepared to celebrate Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday. Instead, we will take a leaf out of Matthew Fox’s book and craft our worship around the theme of the Quest for the Cosmic Christ.

Cosmic ChristYears ago, long before I ventured to seminary, Matthew Fox’s book Original Blessing opened me to the wonders of Creation Spirituality. So, I eagerly worked my way through his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. I confess that my first reading of Fox’s tome left me in the dust of my own lack of understanding of traditional Christology. But even back then, without the benefit of theological training, I sensed something of the MYSTERY that I had always trust Christ to BE. I have returned to Fox’s work many times over the years and over and over again I have discovered a WISDOM that moves me beyond the limitations of the historical Jesus toward a more holistic vision of Christ, which like Fox I believe, has the potential to move us to a more wholistic relationship with Creation. I trust that the WISDOM of the Cosmic Christ will lead us into the Season of Advent so that we can be about the work of birthing the Cosmic Christ.

Quest for the Cosmic Christ – a sermon

Cosmic Christ pastordawnLast year, we at Holy Cross began our quest for the Cosmic Christ on  the last Sunday of the Church calendar; traditionally the festival of Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. Our readings: John 1:1-6; Colossians 1:15-20; and Matthew 9:16-17. The sermon was the first in a series of sermons on our Quest for the Cosmic Christ which anticipates the season of Advent’s waiting and hoping for Christ to be born in us.

“No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth onto an old cloak, because the patch will pull away from the cloak and the tear will get worse. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins—if they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out, and the skins will be ruined. No, they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16-17

My one and only experience with old wineskins was not a pleasant one. If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’m not exactly sure that the offending wineskins were old when I encountered them. They were however old-fashioned. Indeed, I do believe that if Jesus tried to tell this story in the in this century instead of the first century, he would have cautioned us against putting new wine into old-fashioned wineskins. Few people use old-fashioned wineskins. The only time I’ve ever come across old-fashioned wineskins was about 35 years ago when I myself wasn’t so very old. I was backpacking around Europe on a very tight budget. In order to extend our stay we had to stretch every penny. So, from time to time we camped out. I remember one particular night, after securing our campsite and pitching our tent, we walked back into the nearest village. I don’t remember the name of the village, I only remember that we were somewhere north of Florence, Italy. After a cheap dinner in a local taverna, we were wandering back to our campsite, when one of us, I don’t remember who, decided that we needed some more wine. When you are travelling in Italy on the cheap, some wines are less expensive than bottled water. So, I’m sure my travelling companion was just trying to save us some money, when he came out of the shop and encouraged us all to go in and take advantage of the great deal he had just bought. For not much money he had purchased two wineskins full of what promised to be a charming little vintage. I do love a bargain, so in I went to purchase my first and my last old-fashioned wineskin full of a very decent little chianti. The rest of the way back to our campsite, we speculated over the source of the wineskin, but as to whether sheep, goats, or cattle had given up the ghost for these skins, I’ll never know. I do know that we consumed a great deal of wine over our campfire. Sometime during the early hours of the next morning, most of us ended up down by the riverside, tossing the contents of our own stomach. Later in the afternoon, convinced that we were dying, some of us managed to drag our sorry-selves to a nearby clinic where we discovered that we were not hung-over at all; we were in fact suffering from a type of poisoning. Apparently, if wineskins are not cured properly, bacteria that are normally generated in the stomach of the animal, whether it’s a goat, a sheep, or cattle, morphs into some kind of poison, which can in some cases be fatal. My friends and I got away with about four days of hugging a riverbank in a kind of agony that some would say we deserved for trusting old-fashioned wineskins; something the locals are loath to do. Continue reading

Preparing to Preach or Not to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

cosmic christI usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event that takes me far away from the pulpit on Reign of Christ Sunday. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east nor west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But merely changing the title fails to get  beyond the struggles I have with this festival of the church year!!!!

Born in an age that was birthing fascist regimes, this particular festival of the church clings to it’s christian imperialist past. Instituted in 1925, by Pope Pius XI,  (you can read the full proclamation here) the festival was designed to remind the world that Christ is the King of the World. The irony of proclaiming Christ as “King” when the life of Jesus of Nazareth positively denies “kingliness” seems lost on the church. The appropriateness of asserting Christ over the religions of the world lacks the kind of humility embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So, this year I am not prepared to celebrate Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday. Last year, we took a leaf out of Matthew Fox’s book and crafted our worship around the theme of the Quest for the Cosmic Christ.

Cosmic ChristYears ago, long before I ventured to seminary, Matthew Fox’s book Original Blessing opened me to the wonders of Creation Spirituality. So, I eagerly worked my way through his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. I confess that my first reading of Fox’s tome left me in the dust of my own lack of understanding of traditional Christology. But even back then, without the benefit of theological training, I sensed something of the MYSTERY that I had always trust Christ to BE. I have returned to Fox’s work many times over the years and over and over again I have discovered a WISDOM that moves me beyond the limitations of the historical Jesus toward a more holistic vision of Christ which like Fox I believe has the potential  to move us to a more wholistic relationship with Creation. I trust that the WISDOM of the Cosmic Christ can lead us into the Season of Advent so that we can be about the work of birthing the Cosmic Christ. (you can check out last year’s sermon on the Cosmic Christ hereThis year, we at Holy Cross will begin our quest for the Cosmic Christ by looking back to remember our treasured relationships with Jesus as we explore the relationship of Jesus, both our own personal Jesus and the historical Jesus, to our visions of the Cosmic Christ.

Quest for the Cosmic Christ – a sermon

Cosmic Christ pastordawnWe begin our quest for the Cosmic Christ on this the last Sunday of the Church calendar; traditionally the festival of Christ the King or Reign of Christ Sunday. Readings: John 1:1-6; Colossians 1:15-20; and Matthew 9:16-17. This sermon is the first in a series of sermons on our Quest for the Cosmic Christ which anticipates the season of Advent’s waiting and hoping for Christ to be born in us.

Listen to the sermon here:

Preparing to Preach or Not to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

cosmic christI usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event that takes me far away from the pulpit on Reign of Christ Sunday. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east nor west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But merely changing the title fails to get  beyond the struggles I have with this festival of the church year!!!!

Born in an age that was birthing fascist regimes, this particular festival of the church clings to it’s christian imperialist past. Instituted in 1925, by Pope Pius XI,  (you can read the full proclamation here) the festival was designed to remind the world that Christ is the King of the World. The irony of proclaiming Christ as “King” when the life of Jesus of Nazareth positively denies “kingliness” seems lost on the church. The appropriateness of asserting Christ over the religions of the world lacks the kind of humility embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So, this year I am not prepared to celebrate Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday. Instead, we will take a leaf out of Matthew Fox’s book and craft our worship around the theme of the Quest for the Cosmic Christ.

Cosmic ChristYears ago, long before I ventured to seminary, Matthew Fox’s book Original Blessing opened me to the wonders of Creation Spirituality. So, I eagerly worked my way through his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. I confess that my first reading of Fox’s tome left me in the dust of my own lack of understanding of traditional Christology. But even back then, without the benefit of theological training, I sensed something of the MYSTERY that I had always trust Christ to BE. I have returned to Fox’s work many times over the years and over and over again I have discovered a WISDOM that moves me beyond the limitations of the historical Jesus toward a more holistic vision of Christ which like Fox I believe has the potent ion to move us to a more wholistic relationship with Creation. I trust that the WISDOM of the Cosmic Christ will lead us into the Season of Advent so that we can be about the work of birthing the Cosmic Christ.

Preparing to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

basileiaIn the past fifteen years, I have only preached on Reign of Christ Sunday twice. I usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event for this festival of the church year. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east or west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But neither title gets away seems to suffice in a pluralistic world. 

Born in an age that was birthing fascist regimes, this particular festival of the church clings to it’s christian imperialist past. Instituted in 1925, by Pope Pius XI,  (you can read the full proclamation here) the festival was designed to remind the world that Christ is the King of the World. The irony of proclaiming Christ as “King” when the life of Jesus of Nazareth positively denies “kingliness” seems lost on the church. The appropriateness of asserting Christ over the religions of the world lacks the kind of humility embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So, even though it’s too late to book a vacation, I for one would rather not have the task of preaching on this particular festival. 

I was tempted to welcome the congregation on Sunday morning with something like: “Welcome to what I hope will be the last celebration of Reign of Christ Sunday here in this place.” But I suspect that between now and Sunday, I will find it within myself to be somewhat more circumspect. I suspect that rather than proclaiming Christ as the King of the World, I will look at the reign of the current rulers of the world and explore the contrasts between their reign and the justice that Jesus of Nazareth lived and died for.  This video clip seems like the place from which to begin writing the sermon.  

Reign of Christ Sunday – Sermon

Leftover People – Pastor Tom Doherty

Listen to the sermon here

Leftover People our Hymn of the Day: Leftover People