In the name of the one, true, living God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. [Amen.]
So I want to say a couple of words about Tuesday’s election. This Tuesday we’re electing parish council officers. [Laughter] You know, it’s traumatic when our kids grow up, move off to a different town or to college. Some of you know this story. There was a husband and wife, and their son was going to be leaving home. Like any young man, he had had some struggles, so they worried what would become of him when he went a few hours away from home. So the preacher had told this couple that there was a simple test that they could use. The husband told the wife they were going to do this. When the son had all his bags packed, and he had his memorabilia lying around that he was going to take off to college, the dad—you know this story—left a deck of playing cards on the bureau, and he also left a bottle of whiskey, and he left a Bible.
Before they said their final good-bye to their son, his door was slightly ajar, and Mom and Dad were kind of peeking in tearfully, seeing his last moments. The son goes over and he starts to grab the playing cards, and the Dad said, “Oh no.” And the Mom said, “What?” “He’s going to be a gambler.” Then he put the playing cards down and he reached out for the whiskey bottle, and the father said, “No!” She said, “What happened?” He said, “He’s going to be a drunk!” And then the guy grabbed the cards and the whiskey, and almost as a second thought he went back and grabbed the Bible. And the father said, “No!” And she said, “What?” And he said, “He’s going to be a politician!” [Laughter]
We have all been through quite a week, so it’s good for us to be in church today. It’s good for us to be in church today. When our nation is divided or when we’re fighting amongst each other, it only thrills our enemies—and we have many. I remember after 9/11, the 9/11, how wonderful it was to be one nation. We’re not there, and this is not about politics. This is about being Christian. We don’t start every service talking about elected officials. We talk about “Blessed is the kingdom.” We have one king. All of us have the same ruler. All of us same Christians have the same leader. “Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
But if we rebel against that king, there’s no recourse. When we have the reading of the Twelve Gospels on Great and Holy Thursday evening, it’s easy for us to judge the Jews who, when they bring Jesus out and Pilate says, “Behold your king,” the Jews say, “We have no king but Caesar.” Can you imagine? The people of God say, “We have no king but the earthly king.” We as Christians, we pray for our leaders, no matter who they are, every single service. It doesn’t matter if they’re big, short, fat, skinny, black, white, Republican, Democrat, bad, good. We pray for them, because that’s what Christians do. They pray for their leaders.
But we see our country now, saying, “We have no king but Caesar,” or “This is not my Caesar.” And that may be fun to watch, but let me tell you, because I worked in radio for ten years, this is what happens: as long as you’re consuming it on television, they’re going to keep showing it, because they sell soap and cars and beer that way. As long as you keep Facebooking about it, they’re going to keep it stirred up, because they get hits and they get information. Be smart. Don’t fall for this. The world will never save you. If you do that, you’re saying, “We have no king but Caesar.”
As Christians, we’re supposed to be the salt, the light. We’re supposed to enliven, as yeast does to bread, the community and the surroundings. We’re not called to be like everyone else, whether they’re victorious or losers, whether they are mad or happy. We’re called to be joyful in the Lord.
Turn the TV off. Stop getting into Facebook arguments. I know I may be preaching to the choir here, but, you see, this is the way the world works: as long as you are consuming it, they’re going to keep feeding you. And when we turn the other cheek, as our Lord says to do, that stops the cycle. So this is not about politics; this is about being Christian. We have a king. Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
If you read today in the epistle, St. Paul says:
Brethren, it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people. He did this once and for all when he offered himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priest, but the word of the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a son who has been made perfect forever.
We can’t be good. Have you ever tried to be good? I have to be careful, because I tell my kids to be good. I don’t want them to say, “Dad, you said you can’t be good!” Only God is good. Only God is perfect. Only God is loving and merciful and kind—all the time. And this is the God we worship. We can’t expect that of each other. We certainly should not expect it of others if we’re not exemplifying it, but we cannot do it without Christ being our king.
I was thinking this morning, “Why on the cross…?” and unfortunately we live in a day and age… When I was a kid, that was just a fantasy, a dark fantasy, crucifixion. And we live in a time now when it’s going on almost daily over in the Middle East: crucifixions of Christians. But can you imagine? There’s three men, dying on a cross, and one of them looks at the guy in the middle and says, “Remember me when you come in your kingdom.” Remember me when you come into your kingdom. He said this to a dying man, and I think sometimes for many of us, that’s the disappointing part about Christianity. It’s not [thump] beating people up! It’s a God who says, “I love you so much I’ll die for you.”
He doesn’t say, “Go out and kill others in my name.” Of course, you protect your country, your family; I’m not saying that. God says, “I love you so much—watch this.” And this guy dying on the cross sees this and says, “That’s my king. That’s my king.” That’s amazing, because I’m not there yet. But we keep trying. We’ll keep having church services. We’ll keep coming together and failing. We’ll keep failing, falling, struggling to get back up, but we cannot do it without that King who died on that cross because he loved us, rose from the dead because he wanted to show us how to get back to the way we were created to be in the beginning.
So he is our king, and this is always our family. We’ve got the Church as our mother; we’ve got God as our Father. We’ve got a prophet, priest, and king in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwells within each and every one of us. To him be glory: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.