First Lutheran Church + November 26, 2017 + Christ the King Sunday
Matthew 25:31-46; Ephesians 1:15-23
“The Last Word"
(Pee Wee Herman Clip – I know you are but what am I)
Perhaps you’ve been there? Back in the day on the playground, getting the last word in, just like Pee Wee Herman. Or maybe it was just last week? In a discussion with a friend, a disagreement with a co worker? Truth be told, we all would like to have “the last word,” because the last word has a way of changing things, controlling things. For better or for worse, "the last word" shapes and defines. So it is we all would like to have "the last word,"especially when it comes to "our life".
Yet the truth is that most of the time we don't have "the last word,” we don't have control, we don’t always get to shape our life the way we want, we don't have complete freedom to shape and define our life. "The last word" is held by our bosses, by the economy, by the government, by family members,
When we are at our best the last word is held by love and passion, empowering us and setting us free! When we are at our worst the last word is held by fear, our individual fears and our collective fears; Holding us back, dashing our hopes, and tempering our dreams
Sometimes it seems like life can become nothing more than a fight for the "last word.” “I know you are but what am I” - an endless cycle of claiming “infinity.” An endless game that robs our life of peace and meaning, and even the freedom we think we're fighting for, (all) when we seek to have "the last word."
Today week we celebrate “Christ the King Sunday,” the last Sunday of the liturgical church year. We boldly declare that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end of all things, and we proclaim that Christ has the “the last word.”
And what is the last word of history? To those at the left hand Christ will say, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me". "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me".
Ironically it's a "last word" that condemns our system of "getting in the last word". A self centered, self serving, system that actually creates "the least of these" for which Christ has ultimate concerns. You see, the one up-man-ship of "getting in the last word" is basically the same thing as "looking out for number one!” And the last word in history is spoken by Jesus, a one time refugee, one who once had no place to lay his head, one who becomes poor, hungry, thirsty, naked, and the stranger. Yes, Ironically, the "last word" is spoken by the silent and suffering servant who sought "no last word" in history.
The last words of the “Omega,” the last words of the final judgment are scary. They come to us as a harsh word of judgment against the way that we live, the way that we've been forced to live, and the way that we have chosen to live. We have all passed by the empty, neglected people, of our world. So how do we deal with this word, today's Gospel?
As we look at today's Gospel lesson we must remember that the Christ who speaks these words is not only the "Omega" of faith but is also the "Alpha" of our faith. These last words of judgment must be heard along with the first words of faith, the words of baptism, ”You are my beloved child." And in this context, “alpha and omega, H\Holding these two things in tension, these hard "last words" of Christ become words of promise, words that can make all things new
Today’s Gospel is not so much about our failings but more of an invitation to life in the kingdom. Jesus is telling us plain and simple, Do you want to know where I am? Do you want to follow me? Do you want to be part of the kingdom? Here I am, right beside you, present in “the least of these!” You don’t need to climb a holy mountain, You don’t need to be all pure and holy, You don’t need to believe all the right things and condemn all the wrong things, You don’t need to be religious. All you need is love – Love for your neighbor in need. That’s where I am, that’s where the kingdom is, that’s where life abundant is! God's "last word" reveals where God is and what really matters.
So it is that from the strength of grace, God's "first word" to us, we see in these hard last words, our salvation, the abundant meaningful life of faith that is ours in Christ. May God's first and last word, a word of love, shape all of our lives. Amen