Christ the King” Sunday. Sermon by Revd Bruce Woolley

Liturgy for Services: The full Service Slides, including the hymns, readings, prayers, other liturgy and notices may be found on our website.

Notices: The notices from the slides for this Sunday are given below before the sermon.

NOTICES
Cell: 081 240 0964
031 305 4666

Midweek Services:

Our Wednesday lunch and Friday morning services will stop at the end of November and resume again in mid January

Our Thanksgiving/Ukubonga focus will be on Sunday 27 November.

25 November to 10 December: 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women
and Children

Diocesan Council meeting:

Saturday 26 November at the Cathedral, 9.00

Monthly Church Men’s Society Walk:

Saturday 3 December. All are welcome.

The focus will be on Gender Based Violence. T-Shirts will be produced for the event. Please order through our parish office.

Diocesan Ordination:

This will take place on 10 December. Please pray for the candidates to be ordained.

Advanced Notices:

After a two year break, we will again hold a Christmas Eve service, starting at 10.30.p.m. Our New Year’s Eve service is at 6pm.

Children’s Christmas Party

For all children in the parish on Saturday 26 November at 12:00 noon

Research on GBV by Sne Vilakazi:

Sne is pursuing a Masters degree with UKZN at the college of Gender and Religion. Her research seeks to amplify the voices of GBV survivors within ACSA through listening to their voices and their lived realities. The title of the research is Silence breeds violence- Speaking out! A critical engagement on the role of ACSA in the reporting behaviour of GBV survivors. It is her intention to collect and listen to these voices through one on one interviews with the survivors of GBV within ACSA Diocese of Natal.

She invites potential participants who would like to be part of my study to contact her at .083 729 2758 /snegugu2802@gmail.com .

Bishop Nkosinathi Ndwandwe has given consent to conduct this study within the Diocese of Natal (this notice is on our notice board)

COVID Service:

At our services on 4 December we will pray for those families who have lost loved ones during the pandemic. There will be an opportunity for the
lighting of candles to remember those who have passed on.

Vestry:

This meeting will be held to approve the signed Annual Financial Statements and the appointment of a new auditor. The vestry will take place after the 9.15 service on 11 December.

Thanks and appreciation

Dolly Ndlovu biscuits and candles
Thanksgiving donation R1,000
Kelechi and Precious in thanksgiving for the birth of their daughter food items,
soup kitchen items, cleaning products, milk
Jabu Soni Coffee, sugar and tea bags
Britt Williamson Cleaning products
Birthdays 20-26 November
20 Musawenkosi Molefe, Ethne Ogle
21 Dolly Dlamini, Andiswa Kubheka, Siyabonga Magudu
24 Duncan Mchakama, Sakhamzi Zwane
25 Amandlesizwe Nxosana, Veronica Mudaly
26 Vuyani Zikalala, Nombulelo Mqoqi, Talente Ntombela

 

Sermon by Revd Bruce Woolley Luke 1:68-79

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all of our hearts glorify
your name here today.

Christ the King” Sunday concludes the year of Luke with a final testimony as to how Jesus is God’s way of ruling in this world and in the world to come.

The Biblical titles of Jesus Son of God, Messiah, and King have been so thoroughly absorbed as words for church and worship that their simple, earthly force is largely lost. Jesus’ crucifixion, however, did not occur on an altar between two candles, but outside the city between two convicts on a dismal executioner’s hill, called “The Skull.” The Gospel is the story of how Jesus the Messiah of God brought God’s reign of justice and mercy to earth, and Luke’s account presents the crucified Messiah enacting God’s reign, surrounded by mocking, brutal violence.

The power of this brief “snippet” or pericope (Luke 23:33-43) will be best grasped as the conclusion of Jesus’ determined journey to Jerusalem and in the context of Luke’s magisterial passion narrative. Luke has tracked the three “passion predictions” in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 8:31-33 and Luke 9:22; Mark 9:30-32 and Luke 9:43-45; and Mark 10:32-34 and Luke 18:31-34), and Luke has amplified the story with Jesus’ purposeful, extended journey. Jesus is on a prophetic mission, bringing God’s reign to Jerusalem (see 9:51-56), and he will not be deterred by Pilate, Herod, or the Judean
authorities (see Luke 13:1; 31-35). His presence in Jerusalem, however, also discloses the tragic rejection of his mission. As Simeon prophesied, Jesus proves to be “destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed” (Luke 2:33-35).

How fierce is the rejection? How complicit are God’s people in this evil? What will God do next?

These questions are more than literary and historical. The dirty secret of ourcondition is out. Our hope, however, lies not in the denial of our reality, but in trusting the mercy of the Messiah of God.

The opposition to Jesus has been building in the narrative. Irritated by how the people love him, Jesus’ enemies display their resistance to God’s reign by their adamant ferocity. After “the scribes and chief priests realized that he had told this parable against them, they wanted to lay hands on him at that very hour, but they feared the people” (Luke 20:19). As Passover approached, “The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people(Luke 22:2).

As Jesus now hangs dying, the mockery of “the leaders” and the Roman executioners hurls sand in the face of “the people” who “stood by watching (Luke 23:35). We join the people who ironically hear the truth spoken in ignorant, sarcastic jabs. “He saved others, let him save himself!” That, of course, is exactly the point of how Jesus is enacting God’s reign of mercy, by not saving himself. But they are blind. Then they cite the heart of the Biblical story as accusations against Jesus: “If he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one.” Whom do the scriptures convict in their testimony to the
Chosen One, Jesus or them?

The Romans were responsible for the inscription over Jesus’ head: “This is the King of the Jews.” And their soldiers mocked Jesus and all of Israel with this title. It was the title with which Pilate scorned Jesus and the title which Herod Antipas desperately wanted for his own (see Luke 23:1-12).The point of crucifixions was to humiliate “enemies of the Roman Order” in public displays of Roman clout, as if to say: “Look here, Judeans, this is the fate of all with pretensions to royal titles only Rome can award!” Ironically, the faithful know Jesus truly is the King of the Jews,
but not because Rome said so. No, it is the title, “The Messiah of God” that carries the promise, because it is God who has chosen Jesus by anointing (Messiah in Hebrew and Christ in Greek mean “the anointed one”) him with the Holy Spirit and with power (see Luke 3:21-22; Acts 2:36; 10:37-38!)

And God’s “Messiah” or “King” exercises God’s righteous reign of justice and mercy. So “the Messiah of God” is truly “the righteous one!”

Push a few verses beyond this “snippet” and notice in Luke’s account how when a Roman Centurion “saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’” (Luke 23:47, NRV, compare Mark 15:39: “Truly this man was God’s Son”). The Greek word that is translated “innocent” is dikaios, which also means “righteous.” Through the centuries, Christian faithful have understood that the Centurion was not merely announcing they had executed an innocent person, but his word noted the ultimate defiance of God’s reign, killing the righteous one, the
Messiah of God.

In Luke’s account, Jesus is enacting an earlier script. In Wisdom 2, the torture and murder of “the righteous one” is described as the blind arrogance of those who oppose God, mocking “the righteous one” who “professes to have knowledge of God and calls himself a child of the Lord.” “Let us see if his words are true,” they sneer, “and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous one is God’s son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

…Let us test him with insult and torture. …Let us condemn him to a shameful death” (Wisdom 2:13-20).

We stand with the people and the disciples, frightened at the power of evil, wondering why we could not or simply did not prevent the atrocity. “The people stood by watching … all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home beating their breasts … but all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things” (Luke 23:35, 48-49). As in so many cases of 20/20 hindsight, we look deep into the darkness of brutality and arrogance, and we are afraid. “Oh my God, what have I done?”

Then we see Jesus exercising his dominion in the midst of mockery, coercion, and arrogance. His two “words” from the cross in Luke’s account enact his authority. The first (Luke 23:34) has problems of textual history, but it fits powerfully in the narrative: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing!” The second (Luke 23:43) anticipates Jesus’ authority as the Son of Man, conferring mercy on sinners in God’s ultimate judgment: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

What God will do next is, of course, the heart of the Gospel. In raising Jesus from the dead, God will vindicate him as Messiah and Lord, not to condemn, but to reign in mercy. This is the gift of a new opportunity to return to God and the gift of the Holy Spirit, renewing the promise “for you and for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2:37-39).

The season ahead in Advent is a time of renewed hope.

In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Contacts

Rector
Rev. Dr. Andrew Warmback
083 693 6745
Asst. Priest
Rev Bruce Woolley
079 544 7566
Church Wardens
Dr. Egerton Hingston
073 080 4113
Mrs. Yolisa Mapasa
082 435 8170
Alternate Church Warden
Mr. Bheki Shabalala
082 086 9548
Church Treasurer
Mr. Lethu Mkhize
082 053 9004
E-mail: paulsdbn@mweb.co.za
Website: www.stpaulsdurban.org.za
Facebook: @stpdbn
Instagram: stpaulsdurban
Twitter:@StPaulsDbn

Giving: You are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 22142