AT THE DOORSTEP - SERMON ON REVELATION 1:4B-8 AND JOHN 18:33-37 - CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY - FR. JOSEPH ALSAY, SAINT AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Reverend Joseph C. Alsay
The Feast of Christ the King
Saint Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
November 21, 2021
Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
“At the Doorstep”
Doorways are interesting things. In one way they are thresholds into private sanctuary
like spaces where we rest, eat, play and live. But in another way, they are gateways out,
out into the big wide world that is full of mystery, opportunity, and chaos. When we
stand at the doorstep with what we know behind us and what we don’t know in front of
us, new worlds beckon us to come out of our safe sanctuary- like spaces to participate
in what is to come.
In many ways we are standing at the doorstep. Today marks the end of another church
year and we stand at the doorstep of a new Advent, a season of waiting with a longing
anticipation for the reign of Christ that comes to us in real time, in real ways incarnate of
the same dirt and flesh and blood as you and I.
What will we experience as step out across the threshold into a new church year and
into an ever-changing world? What do we anticipate or hope for in this upcoming new
church year? What hesitation might we have for stepping out?
In his testimony before Pilate just before his crucifixion, Jesus says in our Gospel today,
“For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone
who belongs to the truth listen to my voice.”
Death is on the doorstep for Jesus, and in this moment, Jesus testifies to the truth.
As people of faith, we are people who listen to the voice of Jesus, to look for Jesus at
work among us and we are called to respond. But the noise and clamor of the world can
be hard to hear over and we are blinded by the glitz and glamour that surround us.
There are times we may fall into hesitation instead of hope by the evil and death on our
Barbara Lundblad, a Lutheran theologian, reflects on Jesus as king. She asks, “Where
will we hear and see this strange king?
Among us still--and in places we never expected.
Throughout the scriptures we see a different vision of king and kingdom than the one
made known in fairytales, modern monarchies (and even democracies.) Jesus’ reign as
king is revealed in humility, self-emptying and service to others.” Jesus’ reign is made
known through love; love for the Samaritan woman outcast from her community, love for
the disciples as he bends down to wash their feet, love poured out for all in the mystery
of the cross.
Jesus is a king who never rose so high that he couldn’t see those who were down low.
Even today, we see Jesus in the refugee who have left their native lands due to war and
oppression. We see Jesus with those struggling to rebuild their lives. We hear Jesus in
the shelters where wailing women have sought refuge from abusers. To see and hear
the voice of Jesus in all places that kings seldom GO!
This king who moves among the people is unlike any other. His power is always on the
side of justice for the poor, disenfranchised, outcast and oppressed. His power is never
self-serving but always exercised on behalf of others. He does not sit on a throne but
comes into this world to be fully human and embrace all of humanity with love.
And this is good news for us. It means that when this human life seems too much to
bear- when those we love are lost or dying. Jesus too, knows the pain of being helpless
and in sorrow. It means that when our lives are spinning out of control from addiction,
financial strain or family strife, our humble king comes to us in “this body”, to draw us
close and build us up until hope is restored.
So, today we step over the threshold of our doorstep into a church new year we are
reminded of our call to follow Jesus and testify to the truth that goodness is stronger
than evil and life is stronger than death. We step over the threshold with the longing
hope that the reign of truth will come to us to set us free. No longer will we be controlled
or compelled to hesitate because of the seeming power wielded by the reign of fear, or
evil, or death, or lies.
The reign of truth liberates us to love without hesitation.
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.