Last Pentecost: Christ the King 2022

A Sermon from the Church of  

Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida

Preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck on November 20, 2022 (Proper 29, Year C)

Well, the phantom rector has finally arrived for his first Sunday morning at Bethesda. The one who’s been lurking in the rectory the past few weeks; the one who’s been opening countless boxes and hanging pictures and engaging in high level negotiations with the Department of Motor Vehicles; the one who’s been sneaking out to other churches on Sunday mornings; the one who survived what I’ve been referring to as our “starter hurricane;” the one who’s met a few of you along the way – at Publix or the Church Mouse or walking the dogs along Barton Avenue. Actually, I met a lot of you at last Sunday evening’s beautiful Celebration of New Ministry — but, to be fair, that was all a bit of a blur (please do keep telling me and Bryna your names — over and over again). We’ll get there.

So, I have to say it feels great to have finally and officially begun my ministry among you. To finally begin this new relationship after so much anticipation. To finally embark upon the mission to which we together have been called: seeking and serving Christ in one another and in the world. So I’ll announce right here, right now that I am officially done lurking. 

Which means we can all get on with the task at hand, of getting to know one another and living into the bold, beautiful vision God has in store for us. And thanks be to God for that!

Now, I’ll be honest. The last thing a new rector wants to hear on his very first Sunday at a new church is the story of the crucifixion. We don’t want to delve into any possible foreshadowing of how things might go. But at another level it’s the perfect gospel passage upon which to begin a new relationship, because the cross is so central to our faith. It’s what binds us to Jesus and one another. It stands at the very heart of all that we do as Christians. Without the crucifixion, we live without the hope and joy of the resurrection. And, boy, do we need the hope and joy of the resurrection in our lives. It’s what sustains us and gives life meaning. It’s what allows us to get up and keep going when life knocks us down. It’s what assures us that we are beloved children of God.

Which brings us to Christ the King Sunday, the day we mark the reign of Jesus, as we celebrate him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. You might think we’d get a reading that highlights Jesus in all his triumphant resurrected glory, rather than the story of the crucifixion. From the outside looking in, Jesus being strung up on a cross to die is hardly a victory. An ignominious death at the hands of the Roman authorities is hardly an ending fit for a king. But here’s the thing: Jesus’ reign isn’t like worldly examples of kingship. Many of the great and powerful kings we read about in history ruled by fear and isolation. They enforced their will with armies and kept the populace at arm’s length by living in moat-ringed castles. Kings like Nero or Ivan the Terrible or Henry VIII. And, yes, I know we Anglicans have a complicated relationship with Henry VIII, but of course none of us had to be one of his wives.

That’s not the kind of king we’re dealing with in Jesus. His is a different sort of realm. And so, in thinking about Christ the King, we need to undo our notions of earthly kingship. Jesus’ kingship is not about the iron grip of absolute power. It is a kingship of invitation rather than coercion; a kingship of inclusion rather than isolation; a kingship built upon peace rather than fear. In other words it is a kingship that looks nothing like what we’ve learned about in history books or seen in movies. It certainly stands in direct contrast to King Herod and the other kings of Jesus’ own day. 

And so, as Christians, we end up with what I like to call the “upside down kingdom.” A place where a king is born in a lowly stable, not a royal bedchamber. A place where a king is not King Midas-wealthy, set up in a fortified castle but a man without a spot to lay his head. A place where a king has not 12 armor-wearing knights, but 12 unarmed apostles. Everything has been flipped in this kingdom, where the last will be first and the first will be last; where the king came not to be served, but to serve. The reign of Christ is built on love, not fear.

And the crucifixion itself teaches us much about the reign of Jesus. It is selfless — Jesus doesn’t use his power to save himself, despite the mocking call of “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.” It is built on forgiveness — Jesus forgives even those who crucify him — “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” It is rooted in salvation — he says to the repentant thief, “Truly this day, you will be with me in paradise.”

This is the kingdom into which we are invited to live and move and have our being. This kingdom that is selfless and forgiving and salvific. This is the kingdom we are called to create here on earth, to work together as partners with Jesus to make space for the least, the lost, and the lonely. To open our hands in love to those crying out for justice. To give a voice to the voiceless. When we pray “Thy kingdom come,” this is what we are seeking to usher in. Not to build up thick walls between and among us, but to tear them down. This is the work to which we have been called, to bring about the very kingdom of God here on earth, and specifically here at Bethesda.

In the coming years, I look forward to worshiping with you, to serving Jesus with you, to laughing with you, to weeping with you, to drinking coffee with you, to building the kingdom of God in this place. Relationships take time, but they also take investment, whether that’s relationship with Jesus or relationship with a new rector. Let’s invest in this relationship. We won’t always agree on everything — it wouldn’t be church if we did. But God doesn’t call us to always agree with one another, God calls us to change the world. And together, we can do just that. 

Please know just how excited I am to walk with you along the pilgrim’s path as a fellow disciple of our risen Lord. By being here this morning we have all made a commitment to enter into ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, and to follow him. Sometimes we do that tentatively; sometimes we do that boldly. But the good news is that we’re not asked to follow Jesus in isolation. We do so with the help and encouragement of a community of faith, with the help and encouragement of this community of faith. My friends in Christ, it will be a privilege to walk this journey with you. And to do our part to usher in the kingdom of God in this place.


Last Pentecost: Christ the King 2021

A Sermon from the Episcopal Parish of 

St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts

Preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck on November 21, 2021 (Christ the King)

Sometime in the 15th century, the Japanese Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite tea bowl. This wasn’t like one of us breaking a wine glass while doing the dishes. For a shogun, a tea bowl had near mystic qualities. It held a place of prominence in the ancient tea ceremonies of Japan. These gatherings, rooted in ritual and symbol, bound the assembled samurai warriors to their Shogun. And so the tea bowl wasn’t just a utilitarian dish, it was a sacred vessel.

Shogun Yoshimasa sent his beloved tea bowl all the way to China to have it repaired. But when it came back, months later, he was disappointed. The metal staples used to piece it back together ruined the bowl’s character, and it was just…ugly. In desperation, he sent it to a local craftsman whose solution was to fill the cracks with gold. 

And thus, a new art form was born. Kintsugi, which literally means “golden repair,” is a method of patching pottery that honors the artifact’s unique qualities by emphasizing, rather than hiding, the piece’s imperfections. When you look at bowl or a vase that has been repaired this way, the cracks look like a beautiful design feature. The piece takes on an entirely new character, even as it holds its original look and shape. And, of course, the alternative would have been to just pitch the broken vessel onto the trash heap.

What I love about this whole concept is that it views blemishes not as shameful, but beautiful. Like human scars that tell stories of courage or survival, these cracks become part of the character and history of the vessel, magnifying its storied journey through ages and empires.

On this day in the Church year, we reflect upon the kingship of Jesus and the reign of Christ. And we learn pretty quickly that Jesus is not your typical king. Birth in a stable rather than a palace is our first clue. Giving away rather than amassing power is another indication that the kingdom of heaven has little in common with the kingdom of, say, Herod. As we just heard Jesus tell Pontius Pilate in no uncertain terms, “My kingdom is not of this world.” It is certainly not the kind of kingdom where white vigilantism runs rampant and parallel legal systems exist based on little more than skin color — as was on full view this weekend. This is a different kind of kingdom and Jesus is a different kind of king.

This is a kingdom, like that broken tea bowl with its golden cracks, that embraces humility and vulnerability, blemish, and failure. Not because imperfection is the goal, but because God’s grace fills in the inevitable cracks in our facade. God’s grace mends the instability of our own foundations. 

As with Kintsugi, this doesn’t mean our cracks magically disappear. Instead they become part of who we are, part of our identity as beloved, forgiven, and redeemed children of God. The process of being cracked open is often painful and hard. That’s the nature of trauma and failure and the surrounding aura of shame. But our cracks often end up becoming avenues to know God in deeper ways. Our brokenness doesn’t define us, but it is an integral part of our story. The cracks help form our beautiful, if imperfect, identities. As human beings we are all broken, yes, but through faith in our King of kings and Lord of lords, we are healed and restored and made new in God’s very own image. 

As we look at the arc of Jesus’ life in the context of what I like to call the upside down kingdom, I’d suggest the crucifixion is the ultimate demonstration of Kintsugi. In his post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, Jesus doesn’t seek to conceal the wounds on his hands and feet, or the hole in his side. Nails were driven deep into his flesh; his side was pierced by a spear. Blood flowed, gaping wounds were opened. Yet he tells Thomas, he of the doubts, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.” In other words, look at my broken body, see the cracks; but know that through the resurrection all has been made new. And that through belief in me you, too, will one day enter the kingdom of heaven.

All you have to do is pick up a crucifix to see that for generations the Church has highlighted rather than covered up the wounds of Jesus. We see the nails that have pierced his body and through the lens of Kintsugi, we can envision the holes lovingly covered with gold. We don’t deny that our king was crucified or that he suffered an ignominious and painful death. To the contrary, we acknowledge it and give prominence to it because he was crucified for us. As the prophet Isaiah writes, “He was pierced for our transgressions…by his wounds we are healed.” 

And so Jesus points the way for us to embrace our own woundedness. For it is often in our weakness, our brokenness, our pain, that Jesus is most fully present to us; that we feel most acutely his deep and abiding love for us. 

It’s true, however, that embracing rather than covering up our cracks is such a counter cultural way of imagining ourselves! Whether through concealing makeup, or Facebook posts that collectively present a carefully cultivated image, or a forced and cheerful “things are great! when asked how we’re doing, we’re quick to cover up any faults, real or imagined. Through our public personas, we don’t want anyone to think we are anything less than perfection personified. To fill in our cracks is to acknowledge that we even have any. And to acknowledge we have any cracks is to show weakness. And to show weakness is the greatest American societal “sin.” 

But I think there is great freedom found in the Kintsugi concept of embracing our flaws, rather than hiding them. Imagine all the extra breathing room you’d have if you didn’t spend all that energy trying to convince the world everything is okay in your life, at moments when it decidedly is not.

There is freedom in exposing rather than suppressing our vulnerabilities. Acknowledging our woundedness, sharing our vulnerabilities, exposing the cracks in our foundations, allows our true selves to shine even brighter. It lets us live more fully as the people God created us to be.

Now, just so we’re clear, this isn’t some new age thing that leads to staring in a mirror and reciting self-affirmation mantras. This vision of wholeness stands at the heart of Jesus’ kingdom. A kingdom, Jesus reminds us, that “is not from this world.” For the reign of Christ is built upon a realm of invitation rather than coercion; a realm of inclusion rather than isolation; a realm of peace rather than fear; a realm of truth rather than deception.

We don’t need to disguise our cracks. We can value our scars, both visible and invisible, as marks of life and relationship with the living God. And so enter the kingdom of heaven — this upside down kingdom — broken but whole, wounded yet healed. 

Christ the King Sunday 2018

A Sermon from the Episcopal Parish of 
St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts
Preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck on November 25, 2018 (Christ the King, Year B)

A few years ago, we replaced the septic system over at the rectory. This was not something we held up as a cornerstone of that year’s stewardship campaign. It was not a glamorous project, but it was an important one. Believe me, it was an important one. 

When the work was about to begin, the septic company first dropped off the digger in front of the house and there it sat for a week while they tended to other, more immediate emergency situations. I got tired of friends and neighbors asking about the big piece of construction equipment sitting out there since, I mean, there really is nothing sexy about sharing the news that you’re getting a new septic system. So I started telling people we were digging a moat. That I was tired of parishioners dropping in all the time and I was finally doing something about it. I’m not sure anyone actually believed me, but it did abruptly end the conversation, as people just sort of backed away. 

I’m actually a big fan of moats — not because I want to keep people away, but because 100_14401they evoke castles and knights in shining armor and fair maidens and dragons. But mostly I think of kings and queens and kingdoms. Much of this is fantasy and fairy tale, of course, as there aren’t many kingdoms or castles around today. At least in these parts. McMansions, yes, but not  fortified stone castles with moats. We tend to leave those to the Europeans.

But on Christ the King Sunday, we reflect upon the reign of Christ, as we celebrate the King of kings and Lord of lords. Many of the great and powerful kings we read about in history ruled by fear and isolation. They enforced their will with armies and kept the populace at arm’s length by living in moat-ringed castles. 

That’s not the kind of king we’re dealing with in Jesus. His is a different sort of realm. And so, in thinking about Christ the King, we need to undo our notions of earthly kingship. Jesus’ kingship is not about the iron grip of absolute power. It is a kingship of invitation rather than coercion; a kingship of inclusion rather than isolation; a kingship built upon peace rather than fear. In other words it is a kingship that looks nothing like what we’ve learned about in history books or seen in movies. 

And so, as Christians, we end up with what could be called the “upside down kingdom.” A place where a king is born in a lowly stable, not a royal bedchamber. A place where a king is not King Midas-wealthy, set up in a fortified castle but a man without a spot to lay his head. A place where a king has not 12 armor-wearing knights but 12 unarmed apostles. Everything has been flipped in this kingdom, where the last will be first and the first will be last; where the king came not to be served, but to serve.

It’s why this interaction between Jesus and Pontius Pilate from John’s gospel doesn’t follow the usual script. For Pilate, a man used to being in control of such interactions with accused prisoners, things quickly go sideways.

He keeps trying to get Jesus to admit to being a king in the earthly sense of the word. ‘Admit that you claim to be a king and I’ll execute you; admit that you’re not and I’ll let you go.’ Over and over again he tries to force Jesus into a box that doesn’t exist. “Are you the king of the Jews? he asks. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus answers. “So you are a king?” “You say that I am a king.” It’s an impossible conversation because they are speaking on completely different spheres. Jesus speaks of an upside kingdom not of this world; Pilate hears treason because kingship can only be in opposition to the Emperor.

The reality is that Jesus embodies both a kingship and a truth that the world cannot comprehend. Which circles back to the very first lines of John’s gospel: “The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” From the outside looking in, you simply cannot comprehend such a kingdom. From the outside, Jesus looks like a quixotic fool, destined for the death penalty. You can’t fight the powers that be and expect to live. From the outside, this “king” is put to a shameful death. Which should be the end of the story. Except that it’s not. That’s the thing about eternal kingdoms, they abide and endure in ways our human minds can barely begin to fathom.

One way to think about the kingdom of God is as a borderless kingdom. When we think about earthly kingdoms, we tend to think about defined borders. Most wars have been fought over questions of borders. One kings wants more territory, so he invades another king’s borders. It’s why those ancient walled cities, so fun to visit as tourists, existed in the first place. “If I build a wall around it, it is mine. And you can’t come in.” 

But here’s another feature of Jesus’ kingdom: it is a borderless kingdom. There are no walls keeping people out or keeping them in. And there is a certain freedom in a borderless kingdom. All are invited to the banquet table of the king. There are no guards keeping out the undesirables. Indeed those deemed unwanted by society are first in line to be ushered into this kingdom. 

This is yet another aspect of the upside down kingdom. In a world that prefers to put up barriers between and among people, Jesus tears them down. In a world that seeks to divide and separate us one from another, Jesus unites us. Which is why this kingdom, as unusual as it may be and as uncomfortable as it may seem, is a place of profound connection and joy.

This morning, through the sacrament of baptism, we welcome two more loyal subjects into Jesus’ realm, into this crazy upside down kingdom. And as they grow into the full stature of Christ, we have a responsibility to teach them about this kingdom. To show them by our words and our actions that this is a kingdom without walls and moats and defenses. That it is a kingdom of relationship, not rule. A kingdom of invitation, not declaration. A kingdom of love, not law. 

The question hangs out there for all of us: In what ways are we building this kingdom here on earth? In what ways are we reaching out our hands in love to help the least of these among us? In what ways are we doing our part to tear down the structures of oppression that exist in this world? There are no easy answers. Yet we owe it to Christ the King to do our part in casting down the mighty from their thrones and lifting up the lowly. This is our role and our responsibility as active participants in this kingdom, rather than passive observers.

I do hope that in the coming years, parents and godparents and friends and relatives of our soon-to-be newest Christians will inspire their imaginations by reading them the stories of King Arthur  and Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel and all the other stories out there with kings and queens and princes and princesses. But most importantly, tell them stories about Christ the King, the Prince of Peace. Help them to see and know the stories about the kingdom of God. Invite them to build it with you. It is a lesson we all need to hear again and again and again.

© The Rev. Tim Schenck 2018

Christ the King 2017

A Sermon from the Episcopal Parish of 
St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts
Preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck on November 26, 2017 (Proper 29A)

There are certain children’s toys that make me feel incredibly smart. One of these is the shape sorter. You remember that one. It has simple shapes in primary colors like blue circles and red triangles and green squares. Placing the correct shape in the correct slot triggers a sense of great triumph and glee in the child while unleashing unsurpassed affirmation from mom and dad, aunts and uncles, and everyone else who has gathered to watch the scene unfold on the living room floor.

It’s used as a tool to teach young children shapes, colors, and fine motor skills but as I 951e2da7cc2887182443c4229a969993watch a child struggle and ultimately conquer the shape sorter, I sometimes think to myself. “Big deal. I can do that in my sleep. No one’s clapping for me.” But seriously, I am really good at sorting shapes.

There is some sorting going on in this morning’s gospel passage from Matthew and it’s a bit trickier than a child’s toy. Jesus talks about the coming end of the age when all of humanity will be sorted and separated one from another “as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” It’s a disturbing image for those of us who like to imagine that, ultimately, we’re all headed to the same place. That we will all share in the heavenly banquet. So this kind of sorting gives us pause. We don’t want anything to do with being sorted, for fear of ending up in the wrong pile.

And yet, ironically enough, we love sorting other people. We sort them into social classes and tax brackets; we sort them by ethnic group and skin color; we sort them by class rank and education level. We like to put people into buckets because it’s easier to judge them that way. That’s really why we put so much energy into sorting others — it makes us feel better about ourselves.

And you need look no further than the church itself. If we want our parishes to reflect the wideness of God’s mercy and the diversity of God’s kingdom here on earth, we’re not very good at including all sorts and conditions of people. If you don’t look a certain way or believe a certain way or act a certain way, you won’t fit in. So you end up with churches filled exclusively with red rectangles in one neighborhood and ones filled only with blue circles in another. And you know from that child’s toy that no matter how hard you try, unless the shape fits the correct hole, it won’t get inside. That red rectangle just won’t go into the circular hole. Surely this is not the sorting God has in mind. A sorting that minimizes and marginalizes God’s creation.

The thing is, when it comes to sorting, we like to be the sorters not the sortees. But of course we are not the sorters. Separating people into groups and judging them is not a human function or role. It’s above our pay grade. And that’s a good thing because we’re pretty lousy at it. Though not for lack of trying.

But what about this whole notion of divine judgment? We want to think about God as a uniter, not a divider. We want to think about God bringing people of all different backgrounds together, not putting them through some sort of celestial strainer where the good ones go in one pile while the bad ones end up in another. What about that “amazing grace” we like to sing about? Or the “unconditional love” preachers always talk about?

Well, this is a parable about judgment. And we can’t shy away from that, even if it makes us uncomfortable. But it is a judgment rooted in mercy. A judgment based upon serving the least of these. A judgment established in seeking and serving Christ in all persons.

And at one level this sorting to which we submit is easy. There’s a litmus test for whether you’re a sheep or a goat. You’re a sheep if you have fed the hungry, provided drink for the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, tended to the sick, and visited the prisoner. If you haven’t, you’re a goat. Sorry you weren’t a better person; good luck with your eternal punishment.

But what about those of us who have at times fed the hungry, but at other times failed to feed the hungry? What about those of us who have at times welcomed the stranger, but at other times failed to welcome the stranger? What about those of us who have at times tended the sick, but at other times failed to tend the sick? What about those of us who, in other words, are not perfect? Those of us who are human? Those of us who strive to follow Jesus in word and deed, but fall short? If perfection is the criteria, we can all cash in our goat chips and prepare for a bitter end.

The reality is that we are all hybrids — some combination of sheep and goat. We’re all Shoats or Geep or whatever the term would be. We have all followed in Jesus’ path and we have all stumbled along the way. The good news is that Jesus continually invites us to get up and try again. Jesus continually extends the invitation and offers us opportunities to serve the lost, the lonely, and the least. Those on the margins don’t need our sorting and our judgment, they need our love. The same love that Jesus offers all of us is what he expects us to show to others, by feeding and welcoming and clothing and visiting.

In our temptation to sort others, we sometimes forget that we, too, at times, are the lost, the lonely, and the least. Look at the words of the prophet Ezekiel: “For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. I will rescue them…I will feed them…I will seek the lost…I will bring back the strayed…I will bind up the injured…I will strengthen the weak.” We have all strayed like lost sheep and yet God seeks us out and binds us up; God rescues us and strengthens us. And there is comfort in that.

Just as there is comfort in knowing that we are more than individual shapes in primary colors to God. We are more than sheep and goats. We are complex kaleidoscopes of humanity. Some aspects of our lives will be separated and judged, others will be affirmed and anointed. With God’s help, we will continue to be shaped and formed in God’s image. And with God’s help, we can let go of the sorting we do to others and focus instead on serving them in Christ’s name.

© The Rev. Tim Schenck 2017

Christ the King Sunday 2016

A Sermon from the Episcopal Parish of
St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts
Preached by the Rev. Timothy Schenck on November 20, 2016 (Christ the King, Year C)

This past week, two Episcopal churches, one in Maryland and one in Indiana, were vandalized with racist messages. In Silver Spring, Maryland, parishioners at Church of Our Savior found “Trump nation — whites only” scrawled on a brick wall in their memorial garden. And the same words were written on the back of a banner advertising their weekly Spanish-language service. At St. David’s Church in Bean Blossom, Indiana, the phrases “fag church” and “heil Trump” were spray painted on the exterior, along with a swastika.

bean-blossom-church-vandalismNow, it would be easy for us to ignore these incidents. I mean, they didn’t happen here in Hingham. Our sacred space wasn’t violated. We weren’t left to scrub hatred off our walls or wash contempt off our souls. In a sense, it doesn’t affect us at all.

But as the church, we are the Body of Christ. So when one of our members is wounded, we’re all wounded. When one of our members is diminished, we’re all diminished. When one of our members is demeaned, we’re all demeaned. And if we can’t share in the outrage of the denial of human dignity based solely upon race or sexual orientation, we need to question what exactly we think we’re doing sitting in a Christian church this morning; worshiping the Lord of love, the one who breaks down barriers between and among all people.

I’m not bringing this up to toss another log onto the the post-election fire that’s raging in our country. Yet hate transcends partisan politics. And there’s certainly no place for it in our world or in our church. But I think this moment in our national life serves as a clarion call to what we must do as a community of faith in divided times, as the hands and heart and voice of Jesus in the world. Because that’s precisely what and who we are.

Our call, as always, is to be a beacon of light that shines amid the darkness of a broken and sinful world. It is to stand with those on the margins of society, the weak and the vulnerable, the fearful and the dispossessed. It is to listen to the cries of those outside the traditional power structures, and to heed their voices. It is to embrace hope and the promise of Jesus’ resurrection, even in the face of darkness and despair. It is to tear down the walls between people who differ from us, politically, racially, culturally, and religiously. It is to make sacrifices, individually and communally, to insure social and economic justice for the poor and downtrodden.

These aren’t merely suggestions to consider, these are gospel mandates to live into. And it’s not easy. But then we worship a king who ushers us into a kingdom of radical transformation through divine encounter, not a life of leisure through a path of least resistance. On Christ the King Sunday we are reminded that we worship a king who is not of this world; a king whose very existence strikes fear into the hearts of the powers and principalities of the ruling class. A king of disruption and change rather than a monarch of structure and stability.

And so, we’re confronted with a challenging question: how will we claim our role as loyal subjects of Christ the King? In a world where might generally does make right, how do we follow the Prince of Peace?

Well, we can start by proclaiming our faith in ever-bolder ways. So that, in a sense, we should be asking ourselves, why didn’t this vandalism that touched the Church of Our Savior and St. David’s happen here at St. John’s? If we are preaching the gospel by word and action as a church community, if we are living out our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being — not just some human beings or only the human beings who look like us and act like us and believe what we believe — we should be the target of vandalism. We should be reviled by the darker forces of this world, those who fight against love and justice and peace.

Do I want our sacred space to be vandalized? Of course not. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is not and never has been an easy path to follow. We worship a king, yes. But a king who was strung up on a cross to suffer and die, not one who prances around in royal robes. That’s the great paradox of the Christian faith. That out of death there is life; out of darkness there is light; out of crucifixion there is resurrection. And that sacrifice is always involved in following the divine call to love your neighbor as yourself.

So, in order to be loyal subjects of Christ the King, what are we as a community willing to sacrifice? What privileges are we as individuals willing to sacrifice? These are the hard questions of being disciples of Jesus in an increasingly polarized world. It may be a sacrifice to give up your time to stand with the dispossessed. Or to share your financial resources — your hard-earned money — with the church and other charities that do kingdom work. It may be leaving your comfort zone to enter into hard conversations with those with whom you disagree or differ from in order to see life from another perspective.

These are the kinds of things that we as Christians must do now more than ever. We must proclaim as a church and as individuals that we will not stand for the demeaning of any human being for whatever reason. To stand idly by is to be complicit. It is to condemn Jesus to the cross again and again and again.

My friends in Christ, this is not an easy time to be a Christian. But it is an important time to be a Christian. We have such an opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless and to offer hope to the hopeless. Never has your commitment to this place mattered so much as it does in this very moment.

You know, I was in Arizona for a few days this week to attend a conference on church leadership. And one of the attendees was Kirk Smith, the Bishop of Arizona. I’ve met Bishop Smith several times over the years and we’ve interacted over social media, but he said something that startled me. At the end of the conference he shared some thoughts with the group and in reflecting on the church’s role in the days, months, and years to come, he said. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to jail.” This wasn’t uttered as a badge of honor, there was great heartache in his words. But also deep conviction. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to jail because I’ll be standing with the immigrants.” This is precisely where the church needs to be, standing with the marginalized. Working for the kingdom of God always entails some suffering along the way. But in the saints of the church, we have plenty of powerful examples of perseverance and endurance we can always look to for inspiration, right along with a vision for bringing us ever closer to realizing God’s kingdom here on earth.

I’m proud to engage in this struggle with all of you. Because of it, we will grow spiritually; our minds and hearts will be expanded; our comfort zones will be extended. We’re not in this alone. Jesus, our royal brother, is with us at every step of the way. And there is great comfort, if not always solace, in this.

At St. David’s in Bean Blossom, they left the hateful messages up in hopes of fostering dialogue. And at Church of Our Savior, in Silver Spring, the community pulled together the evening of the attack and packed the regular Spanish-language mass in a show of support and solidarity. Attendees wrote messages of love on the sidewalk in chalk and covered the vandalism with signs saying “love wins.”

May we, like those seeking reconciliation, look to the courage of our convictions. And may we never, ever back down from following Christ our Lord and our King.

© The Rev. Tim Schenck 2016

Christ the King 2013

A Sermon from the Episcopal Parish of 
St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts
Preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck on November 24, 2013 (Christ the King)

I’ve always loved Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Emperor’s New Clothes. You know, the story about the vain ruler who cares only about his fancy clothes and is taken advantage of by two conniving thieves pretending to weave him a garment out of the finest cloth available. The catch is that it’s only visible to those who are wise. The emperor won’t admit he can’t see anything – to do so would be to admit his own incompetence; neither will his councilors acknowledge they can’t see the cloth – to do so would mean they weren’t worthy to hold their important positions. Well, the emperor ends up in a parade to show off his new royal “robes,” only to be exposed when a child innocently announces that he’s not wearing anything. Finally everyone’s eyes are opened and the truth is revealed.

In some ways the scene from Jesus’ crucifixion shares a parallel with this story. In The Emperor’s New Clothes it takes a child, an insignificant member of the community, to point out the truth.  And on Mount Calvary it takes a criminal, a marginalized, disgraced, and dying member of the community, to point out the truth. That Jesus is truly a king, not of an earthly realm, not a kingdom of powers and principalities, but a heavenly one.

This certainly wasn’t the conventional wisdom that day. You can imagine the thoughts of those who put Jesus to death — the religious leaders threatened by his message; the soldiers charged with carrying out the execution. The ones who scoffed at him and mocked him and spit at him. The ones who sought his death and the ones who carried it out.

“A king. Right. What a joke. Who does he think he is? Let’s make him wear a crown of thorns. Maybe make him sit on a throne of nails or hold a scepter of brambles. ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ Such treason! There’s only one king and his name is Caesar.”

It takes a man being crucified next to Jesus to recognize the truth. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” he says. And Jesus’ response speaks volumes about this new kingdom built on forgiveness not vindictiveness. “Truly I tell you, this day you will be with me in paradise.”

But this curious reversal is in keeping with Jesus’ realm where tax collectors and sinners are welcomed and the religious elite are exposed as hypocrites. Where those seemingly in power are not in control and those seemingly degraded and killed see the truth. 

I like to think of this as the “upside down” kingdom. A place where the king was born not in a palace but a stable; a king who didn’t ride into town on a white steed but a donkey; a king who didn’t wear royal robes but the simple clothes of a peasant; a king who didn’t have a powerful army but a ragtag group of disciples. And yet if there was ever a king who could authentically claim to rule by divine right, it was Jesus.

So what’s our role in this kingdom? If Jesus is king of a heavenly realm built upon justice and love and forgiveness and hope, that makes us, as faithful Christians, his subjects. And the next logical question is how are we living as loyal subject in Jesus’ kingdom? 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When we hold onto his vision of the Kingdom of God and proclaim Jesus as the “king of Kings,” our entire worldview shifts. We move from being admirers of Jesus to becoming disciples of Jesus. And there is a major distinction here. As the German pastor, theologian, and martyr under the Nazis Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “I can doubtless live with or without Jesus as a religious genius, as an ethicist, as a gentleman — just as, after all, I can also live without Plato or Kant. Should, however, there be something in Christ that claims my life entirely with the full seriousness that here God himself speaks and if the word of God once became present only in Christ, then Christ has not only relative but absolute, urgent significance for me.” 

That’s what it means to be a loyal subject of Jesus’ kingdom. To take your faith seriously, urgently, and passionately. To put Jesus at the center of your life. To proclaim him “Not only with our lips but in our lives.” To use your God-given gifts and talents in service of the Gospel. That’s something we must strive to do every single day through small acts of love and broad proclamations of hope.

It’s not always an easy path — it led Bonhoeffer to death in a concentration camp. There’s a cost to this discipleship. We’re not likely to get martyred for our faith here on the South Shore. But we can be prophetic voices amid the spiritual apathy of our culture. We can point out injustice in the world; we can share our conviction of God’s presence in even the darkest moments; we can serve those in need. 

Communal worship provides fuel for the journey — which is why it’s so important to regularly worship together. Our service begins within these walls, yet it doesn’t end here. We can’t leave here feeling satisfied with ourselves for having gone to church and leave it at that. Our faith must become embedded into every aspect of our lives; injected into our bloodstream; so that we have the strength and courage to follow Jesus as disciples and not merely admirers.

In a letter to his brother in 1935, Bonhoeffer himself mentioned Hans Christian Andersen’s story as being particularly relevant to their own day and age. And surely it was in the days when Hitler had seized power but had yet to unleash the full horrors of the Holocaust. “All we are lacking today,” he wrote, “is the child who speaks up at the end.” 

Prophetic voices, voices that speak the truth at moments when truth is elusive, often come from places we’d least expect. Like a child or a criminal being put to death. Perhaps the prophetic word today is calling us to toss aside the spiritual nonchalance that surrounds us and more fervently embrace our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ. In this way we claim our role as loyal subjects of the only realm that matters, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the only king who deserves our undying loyalty, Jesus Christ.

© The Rev. Tim Schenck 2013

Christ the King 2005

A Sermon From All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Briarcliff Manor
Sermon preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck, Rector, on November 20, 2005. 
Based on Matthew 25:31-46 (Last Pentecost, Year A).

Back to basics. Whenever a football team gets off track, the coach reminds his players to get back to basics. It’s a standard sports cliché. One that ranks up there with giving 110% and taking it one game at a time. But, as with most clichés, there’s a fundamental truth at its heart. As injuries pile up and egos emerge and finger-pointing starts and distractions arise and losses start to mount, the coach urges his players to shut everything else out and get back to basics. I’m not specifically referring to my own team, the Baltimore Ravens, but at 2-7 it’s definitely time for them to get back to basics.

God may not care who wins on any given Sunday, but Jesus does call us back, again and again, to the basics of our faith. And, boy is it easy to get distracted. This morning’s gospel passage from Matthew is itself distracting and often misused and abused. It’s an apocalyptic drama, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of God. A place of both judgment and comfort where the sheep are separated from the goats. The sheep are the faithful ones, the people who follow God’s commands and the goats are the unfaithful ones, the people who reject God’s commands. Set up this way, it all seems so black and white. You’re either a sheep or a goat, end of story. But of course it’s more complicated than this. There’s a bit of sheep and a bit of goat in all of us. None of us are purebreds; we’re all hybrids. God loves the sheep in us even while he seeks to transform our inner goat.

The problem with this passage, its inherent danger, is that it’s easy for us to become preoccupied with the sorting. We obviously presume that we are sheep. But then we can’t help but wonder if the person sitting in the next pew is a sheep or a goat. And of course anyone who agrees with us is a sheep and anyone who disagrees is a goat. Whole denominations of Christianity are unfortunately formed on this premise. But of course, we’re not the sorters! That’s not part of the human job description. Our job, and this is where Jesus reminds us to get back to basics, is simple. It’s to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the prisoners. We are not the sorters. If we are faithful Christians, we are the feeders and the welcomers and the clothers, and the caregivers and the visitors. Not the sorters.

So Jesus takes us back to basics, back to what’s real — loving our fellow brothers and sisters. That’s what living a life of faith is all about. And thus, it’s particularly appropriate that we have a baptism this morning. The service of baptism always takes us back to the beginning, to the roots of our faith. Baptism is all about getting back to basics. The lofty doctrines of Christianity always return to that single relationship between an individual and Jesus Christ in the context of a community of faith. In this case, Ryan Matthew Fitzgerald. But it also speaks to each one of us. Which is why in a few moments, as we do at every service of baptism, we’ll renew our own baptismal covenants. Reiterating the promises we either made ourselves or that were made on our behalf when we were baptized. And remembering that, with God’s help, we will seek and serve Christ in all persons, strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. Getting back to basics.

What’s truly radical about this passage is the criteria for entrance into God’s kingdom. It has nothing to do with being a sheep or a goat. It’s not about right doctrine or where you stand on the current issues of the day. It’s simply about how you treat your fellow pilgrims on this journey of life and faith. It’s about the basics. And that’s amazing. Because it means much of our church infighting is time taken away from the basic mission of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Christ. In the current political climate of the church, I’ve often wondered how much more ministry could happen if people spent as much time feeding the poor and clothing the naked as they did arguing about sex.

One point about the kingdom of God. And on this day that we celebrate Christ the King, it makes sense to reflect upon his kingdom. While this passage from Scripture is an apocalyptic vision about the kingdom that is to come, the kingdom is not exclusively a far off and distant phenomenon. Jesus makes it clear that the kingdom is also very much right here right now. Because Christ is present in our lives, when we feed and clothe and visit the least of these, we feed and clothe and visit Christ himself. So the kingdom exists here and now just as much as it exists in the world that is to come. Christmas, the entrance into the world of God in human form, is all about the in-breaking of the kingdom into our present reality. God bursts into the world as an infant in a manger. And the kingdom begins. But more about that in the days ahead.

This morning I simply urge you to get back to the basics of your faith. To remember the words of your baptismal covenant. And to revel in the one who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 © The Rev. Tim Schenck 2005

Twenty-Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 29, Year B)

Proper 29, Year B
November 29, 2000
Old St. Paul’s, Baltimore
The Rev. Timothy E. Schenck

Some people just know how to make a dramatic entrance.  If you’ve ever seen the sit-com “Seinfeld,” you know that Kramer is one of them.  I’m not sure why, but this quirky character with the gangly limbs and the constant deer-caught-in-the-headlights facial expression can’t seem to simply open a door.  No, Kramer has to come crashing through his neighbor Jerry’s door as if he’s being chased by an unruly mob, even if he’s just looking to borrow a cup of milk.  He never knocks and, for some reason, Jerry never seems to lock his door (I’m not sure why, come to think of it).  But at any rate, Kramer just comes barreling in at least half a dozen times per show.  Graceful they’re not, but Kramer’s entrances are dramatic.

Our readings this morning are full of dramatic entrances.  First, we get the introduction to the Book of Revelation, a book that recounts Christ’s revelation to John of Patmos.  The language is cryptic and difficult to understand as it begins to describe the second coming of Christ.  Apocalyptic literature, of which the Book of Revelation is a stunning example, is ultimately about entry into a deeper relationship with God.  And this relationship is full of mystery, full of the unknown, but also full of life.  To enter into relationship with God is to suspend what is certain, what is quantifiable, what is known.  And the same holds true when we attempt to read apocalyptic literature – when we enter into the revelation of Christ to John we enter a world of metaphor and language beyond the everyday ways in which we communicate.  And so we often feel lost.  Apocalyptic imagery is so unfamiliar and it demands that we suspend our preconceived notions about the natural order of things before we can enter into its world.  In order to read such a book we must dramatically enter unfamiliar territory.

A couple of summers ago I worked as a chaplain in a nursing home.  As part of my ministry I spent a considerable amount of time on the Alzheimer’s floor.  At first this was a terrifying experience because I felt so out of place.  None of the residents ever remembered me, their short-term memory was long gone, so each time I visited the floor I had to reintroduce myself to everyone, often right in the middle of a conversation.  And, as is pretty common with those suffering from Alzheimer’s, many of the folks on the floor were living solidly in the past.  They often believed that they were much younger than they actually were.  If a woman thought that she was in her early twenties she obviously wouldn’t have recognized her own children because they hadn’t been born yet.  This is very hard on families and I had trouble relating to these elderly men and women who seemed to be in some sort of time warp.  It wasn’t until I spent some time with the professionals who worked on the floor that I was able to change my perspective.  Since nothing I could say or do could have any impact upon changing the mindsets of these folks, I wasn’t able to truly minister to them until I entered into their world.  Once I suspended all of my preconceived notions about how older people should act and speak I was free to enter into the present state of their lives.  By entering into their world and leaving mine, I was able to meet them where they needed to be met.  And I learned a tremendous amount from these precious men and woman about breaking through my self-constructed natural order of things.  Things aren’t always as we think they are.  Things aren’t always as they seem.  Our human perspective is limited – it’s not right, it’s not wrong it’s just not complete.  And it’s amazing that people with a debilitating neurological disease can teach us so much about perspective.  Entering into their world is confusing and it doesn’t follow what we see as a normal pattern of life.  It doesn’t always make sense and it doesn’t always follow a familiar outline.  It takes a dramatic entrance to enter into their world.

And the same could be said about entering further into our relationship with God.  There are twists and turns that we could never ask for nor imagine.  Some are joyful, some scary, some enlightening, some confusing but all are sacred because of God’s abiding presence with us through it all.  To enter into a deeper relationship with God is to travel into the unknown.  It’s like taking that first step off the elevator and onto the Alzheimer’s floor.  You have no idea what you’re walking into, who you’ll meet, or where the conversation will go.  You’re not in control of the situation and yet you are called to actively participate and to be fully engaged in the relationships you encounter along the way.  It’s not always comfortable but the rewards are rich.  Because the more we know God the more we’re able to trust God; the more we trust God the more we’re able to be loved by God; and the more we’re able to be loved by God, the more we can share that love with others.

Our Gospel lesson from Mark is usually referred to as the Triumphal Entry and it’s read every year on Palm Sunday.  Jesus prepares to enter Jerusalem, the place where he will ultimately be hung on a cross to die, and he does so to great fanfare.  Palm branches are spread in front of him, people shout his praises, and Jesus is treated like royalty.  It is a dramatic entry, no doubt.  But triumphal?  Once Jesus is crucified and the disciples have been scattered it seems anything but triumphal.  And yet, after the resurrection there is both a dramatic and triumphal entry.  And this entry has nothing to do with palm branches or “Hosannas.”  Rather, it’s the entry of God becoming more fully known to the disciples.  Through Christ’s resurrection God has entered our lives in a more complete way.  And through our ongoing daily walk with the Lord, God continues to enter our lives in unexpected, surprising, and dramatic ways.  

In less than a month we celebrate the entrance of Christ into the world.  It would seem that God taking on human form would be quite a dramatic entrance.  And yet it took place in a manger.  From the beginning, then, we see that Christ’s kingdom would be different than any other kingdom.  Its humble origins belie its ultimate majesty.  And this first coming is certainly a lot different than John’s Revelation of what the second coming might look like.  On the first Christmas Jesus didn’t come into the world on the clouds, all the tribes of the earth didn’t wail.  We don’t know if John’s vision will look anything like the actual moment when Christ returns.  It might, it might not.  But the dramatic entrances that God makes into our lives, into our hearts are never exactly what we’d envision.  If we couldn’t have imagined the Savior of the world coming to earth wearing swaddling clothes, it’s difficult to try to project what his return will look like.  But make no mistake.  It will be dramatic in whatever form it takes and it’s dramatic because it calls us further into relationship with God.  It’s dramatic because God is always full of surprises.  It’s dramatic because the living God enters our very lives and dwells among us right here, right now.

We stand on the brink of this season of Advent ready and waiting for Christ to make a dramatic entrance into the world.  I’m not sure how many shopping days are left until Christmas and I’m not sure how many days, shopping or otherwise, are left until the second coming of Christ.  But I do know that God calls us to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus right now.  And that kind of entrance is absolutely dramatic.

 © The Rev. Tim Schenck 2000

Christ the King 2002

Christ the King
November 24, 2002
All Saints’, Briarcliff

 Through Scripture and the Christian tradition, we have and pray with many images of Jesus. He is our shepherd, judge, comforter, and the rock of our salvation, to name a few. On this last Sunday before Advent we celebrate Christ as King. Our readings this morning remind us of Christ’s kingly power. We see him throned in royal splendor and we stand in awe of his kingly realm. Of course none of the words and images we use to describe God in Christ can completely capture who Jesus really is for us. Words and images can never convey Christ’s true power because they are limited. They are formed by human vocabulary and perception. We can’t fully grasp the wonder of the divine, at least not in this life. But that’s why it is important to hold onto a number of images of Christ, rather than just one. Christ is not exclusively our shepherd or judge or king. He is all of these things and much more.

But today, we reflect on the image of Christ the king. And “king” is one image that can be particularly tough for us. As Americans we don’t have much experience with kings. In fact we got rid of the last king we had over 200 years ago! And given the latest round of tabloid stories out of Buckingham Palace, Christ’s image as royalty is even less attractive.

But Christ’s reign has little in common with earthly kingship. It is not about coercion or tyrannical power. It’s certainly not about tabloid gossip or extreme wealth. It’s not about the creation of a ruling class with little in common with the ruled. Christ’s kingship is about perfect freedom not absolute power. It is about true divine right not the pretense of it. It draws people together rather than isolating them from one another.

Our Scripture this morning points us toward a different understanding of kingship. A kingship that blends several images of Jesus. He is both king and shepherd. He holds authority but he wields it with loving tenderness. Matthew’s Gospel speaks of a sorting out on judgment day, a sorting into two groups. On the one hand we have the sheep who will be sent to eternal righteousness. On the other hand we have the goats who will be sent to eternal punishment. So there is no questioning the authority of the king eternal who will come to judge the earth. But if we look at the wider context of this we see the tenderness of the shepherd. 

The prophet Ezekiel points to this aspect of our shepherd-king. God doesn’t find enjoyment in the sorting of sheep and goats. We’re told that he himself searches for his sheep. And feeds them. And brings them to rich pastures where they can live in peace. This is a beautiful image of God’s love for each one of us. And when we stray, Ezekiel assures us that God seeks us out and when we’re injured, God binds up our wounds and when we’re weak, God gives us strength. God seeks out the sheep in all of us, not the goat. There may well be a sorting on judgment day but God our shepherd and our king desires that we are brought into his fold. God actively seeks us and calls out to us. And for this reason we can celebrate Christ the king and give thanks for this particular image of Christ.

© The Rev. Tim Schenck 2002

Christ the King 2006

A Sermon From All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Briarcliff Manor
Sermon preached by the Rev. Timothy E. Schenck, Rector, on November 28, 2006. 
Based on John 18:33-37 (Christ the King).

 “Who died and made you king?” I get this response whenever I make a decision that I really don’t have the authority to make. Like when I, without first begging for permission, change the channel from CSI Miami to Monday Night Football. “Who died and made you king?” You’ve probably either been asked this question or asked it yourself. The implication being that to be king is to hold absolute power. And to hold absolute power is to occasionally abuse that power. 

But when we come to Christ the King Sunday and examine the kingship of Jesus, we see that we’re dealing with a different sort of realm. Jesus’ kingship is not about the iron grip of absolute power. Indeed, when Jesus says to his loyal subjects “my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” we realize this is something altogether unlike earthly kingship. It is a kingship that, as we prayed in our opening collect, frees and brings together those divided and enslaved by sin. So it’s a kingship of freedom rather than imprisonment; a kingship based on peace rather than fear. 

And this sounds a lot different than our usual kingly perceptions: crowns, castles, knights, moats, dungeons. “It’s good to be the king,” Mel Brooks has told us. And, barring a coup attempt, he’s probably right. But maybe celebrating Christ’s kingship is particularly difficult for Americans. After all our country began with a war to get rid of a king. We equate kingly dominion with muskets and Redcoats and “No taxation without representation.” While we’re all about democracy and bicameral legislatures and having every vote count. So to celebrate kingship is a stretch for us. The idea of being subject to the whims of royalty goes against our own sense of “rugged individualism.”

But, again, this is a different sort of kingdom. It is also a realm into which we may freely enter. We have a choice: be subject to the living, loving God or stay outside the walls. No one’s throwing us into the dungeon if we don’t submit. There’s no hanging for royal treason. 

Jesus tells Pilate in this exchange, “My kingdom is not from this world.” And the events that follow certainly corroborate this. But there is also a subtext to Jesus’ trial at the hands of Pilate. Because in the Roman world of Jesus’ day, kingship was the only known form of government. And so a claim of kingship was a bold act of treason punishable by death. And of course Pilate can’t distinguish between earthly kingship and this seemingly bizarre statement that Jesus’ kingship is “not from this world.” Which leads to a significant disconnect on Pilate’s part. No one fully understood that they were talking about two completely different things. There is political kingship and then there is theological kingship. And even many of Jesus’ followers grossly misunderstood the kingship of Jesus. They were expecting this messiah to usher in a reign of earthly kingship that would overthrow the Roman oppressors through military might. But of course this is not why God’s only son came into the world. Jesus’ power and authority derive not from force or intimidation but from God. Jesus rules by divine right in the purest sense of the phrase. 

And so we end up with what Kathy Corley calls the “upside down kingdom.” A place where a king is born in a lowly stable. A place where a king is not King Midas wealthy, set up in a fortified castle but a man without a place to lay his head. A place where a king has not 12 knights but 12 unarmed apostles. A place where in darkness there is light and in death there is resurrection. A place where nothing makes sense from a human perspective but it all makes complete sense through the divine lens of God. 

Once we’ve established that Christ is our King, the next question becomes how do we serve him? That’s what loyal subjects do after all; they serve and pay homage to their king. The primary way to serve Christ is simply through worship. We gather here, we pray, we remain in relationship with Jesus by attending to our spiritual lives. I bid you to reflect upon ways in which you can be a more loyal subject of Christ the King. It’s not about groveling at the throne. It’s about submitting to Christ with all your heart and soul. It takes discipline and dedication.

So, Jesus is a king. And we are free to celebrate this kingship not as feudal servants but as participants in the royal banquet that is set before us. Who died and made Jesus king? Well, he did. And so on this day that wonderful canticle from the service of Morning Prayer taken from the Book of Revelation resounds: “Splendor and honor and kingly power are yours by right O Lord our God, for you created everything that is, and by your will they were created and have their being; and yours by right, O lamb that was slain, for with your blood you have redeemed for God, from every family, language people, and nation, a kingdom of priests to serve our God. And so, to him who sits upon the throne, and to Christ the Lamb, be worship and praise, dominion and splendor for ever and for evermore.”

 © The Rev. Tim Schenck 2006