Worship Our Extraordinary King Who Gives Extraordinary Blessings
The 5th Anniversary of Christ the King Lutheran Church
Worship Our Extraordinary King Who Gives Extraordinary Blessings
Text: John 19:19-22, 28-30
What were we thinking? We must have been crazy! We must have been out of our minds! Five years and two days ago, six adults and two babies came over to my old red brick house on Rycrest Lane here in Palm Coast. It wasn’t a social gathering though. It was the first organizational meeting for a group that was supposed to start a new mission church in Palm Coast, FL. But I don’t think we knew what we were signing up for. Actually, I definitely know we had no clue what we were signing up for.
It sounded like a novel idea. Send a young pastor fresh out of the Seminary. He’ll be a little green, but he’ll be eager to work. (And he can’t say “NO” when it’s an assignment from the Seminary!) There were these few families living in the area and driving to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Port Orange. Why not start a church in this growing city?
Whoever thought of that idea must have been a little crazy. It’s not like this was a “super start” with lots of members or lots of money from a mother church. We had just a handful of people and barely enough money given from our church body to survive. We didn’t have any land. We didn’t have any offices. The first Bible classes were held in living rooms. Worship took place in a dingy back auxiliary room at Wadsworth Elementary School. What were we thinking? We must have been crazy to start this church called Christ the King!
And since we’re on the crazy train, what are we thinking this morning? We must be crazy to be here on a Sunday morning! This is peak beach time! The ocean feels like bath water. Don’t we want to get prime spots on the beach before anyone else? And school’s out for summer. Don’t we want to get any rest ever? Don’t we just want to relax for once? Don’t we want to enjoy a day off from work?
Instead, we get up early in the morning. We take time to get ourselves ready and make ourselves presentable. If you are like my wife, then you take a lot of time to get ready. Some of you battle kids—getting them out of bed, getting them dressed, getting them fed, getting them out the door on time. All this time and all this effort to say a few words and sing a few songs and then listen to some wacko dude in a white robe talk for a few minutes. We must be crazy.
Still not convinced we’re crazy? How about this king we come here to worship. What kind of king is this anyways? You saw him in the gospel today—stumbling his way down the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, carrying his own cross, crucified by his enemies. What kind of a king gets executed with common criminals and by his own people? What kind of king gets mercilessly mocked? What kind of king is reduced to such humility that he has to beg for a drink of sour wine that he sips off a sponge?
Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts for the present time as well. What kind of king is this, anyways? He doesn’t seem to be helping very much. We never get to see him. We never get to hear him. He doesn’t swoop down with mighty forces to spare our troops and destroy those terrorists once and for all. He hasn’t used this so-called miraculous power to make money grow on trees. I’m still struggling to survive. I’m at the bottom of the societal totem pole. Meanwhile the real “bad guys” of the world are filthy rich, trample all over us, and swim in pools of money like they are Scrooge McDuck.
These thoughts keep swirling in the back of our brains. We must be crazy! We must be out of our minds! We worship this Christ the King, but he isn’t very much of a king! Where’s the pomp and circumstance? Where’s the glory and honor? Where’s the provision and profit? He doesn’t seem very special and he doesn’t seem to do anything special!
Oh how our hearts are led astray! Oh how fast we lose focus! We crave a king who fits into our ideal worldly imaginations. We want a king that will be on the cover of People magazine and that drives around in a bulletproof Escalade. We want a king that everyone loves, a king that commands respect, a king that flexes his political power. We want a king that does something for us, that fixes the economy, that fills our wallets, that cures cancer, that makes life easy, that makes all my troubles go away. “That’s the ideal king,” we think.
That’s also the exact same thing that the Jews wanted and were looking for. They wanted Jesus to overthrow the Romans. They wanted Jesus to heal every disease and cure all leprosy. They wanted him to put bread on their tables and put Porsche chariots in their garages. And when they realized he wasn’t that kind of king, they knew just what to shout: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
But look carefully today. Look carefully at that babe born in the barn in Bethlehem. Look carefully at the man hunched over and washing the feet of his followers. Look carefully at this king trudging the rough road to Golgotha. See him carry the cross on his back shredded from flogging. See the crown of thorns pressed firmly into his head as drops of blood drip down his face. See him hanging from the cross with common criminals. Watch as he gasps. Watch as he pants. Watch as he thirsts. Watch as he bows his head and dies.
Look carefully at this king, because this is our king. In fact, this is the King of kings. This is the king who made the heavens and the earth. This is the king who calmed the winds and waves. This is the king who healed diseases and raised from the dead. Look carefully at this king because he is an extraordinary king who set all of that aside. He set aside glory and honor and exaltation and power in order to serve and to suffer. Look carefully at this extraordinary king because he did all of this for you.
As he suffered and bled, his heart beat with love for the very sinners who stood before him, mocking and taunting him. As he gasped for breath, his gut burned with compassion for those who are lost. As he bowed his head and died, he gave up his life willingly and mercifully for a world of people that don’t know or don’t even want his kind of kingdom.
Look carefully at this extraordinary king because he also gives extraordinary blessings. Our sinful hearts want money and success and fame and glory. But our extraordinary king knows what we really need. Defiant sinners need forgiveness. Those doomed to death need life. Those bound for hell need heaven.
These are the extraordinary blessings our extraordinary king came to give us. Look carefully at his wounds pouring out blood that washes our sin away. Look carefully as he bows his head and dies so that we can live. Listen carefully as the simple words, “It is finished,” announce that Satan and hell are defeated and the gates of heaven have been opened.
So maybe we aren’t so crazy to Worship Christ the King. We don’t really need money. We don’t need fame or riches or success. We don’t really even need our health. We have what we need. We have a God who loves us. We have a Savior who forgives us. We have a life that is filled with peace. We have a heavenly home to live in for eternity.
This is why we Worship Christ the King. This is why we get out of bed on Sunday mornings. This is why we bow our heads with clenched hands and expect that he will hear and answer our prayers. This is why we stand in his honor for the Gospel reading and then exclaim, “Thanks be to God!” This is why we sing with all our hearts. This is why we give in joy and live in joy. We have an extraordinary king who gives us the extraordinary blessings.
And maybe we weren’t so crazy then to start a new mission church in Palm Coast, FL. We didn’t have very many people. We didn’t have very much money. We didn’t have a pastor with any experience. We didn’t have land or office space, or any clue what we were getting ourselves into. But we did have Jesus Christ as our king.
We knew he has forgiven us. We knew he would be with us. We knew he would watch over us. We knew he would bless his work. We knew because these are things he has promised. So confident of those promises, five years and two days ago we named this church Christ the King to remind us of our extraordinary king who gives extraordinary blessings.
Now here we are five years later. From eight adults and three babies and nothing to our names to almost 200 members, 225 school children, 25 full time employees, and a beautiful building on 11 acres of land.
What kind of Scripture lesson could be picked for such an occasion? What does a pastor say on so momentous a day? Lots of things crossed my mind. Maybe I preach on God’s power as seen at creation. Maybe Jesus’ power with one of his miracles. Maybe a lesson from Revelation where we see our mighty king seated on his throne with thousands upon thousands bowing down before him. Maybe.
But it isn’t about the numbers. It isn’t about growing fast and being a big church. It isn’t about a huge and successful school, or an incredibly large budget. It isn’t about numbers and outward physical blessings.
This Gospel today is what Christ the King is about: The God of all, the King of kings and Lord of lords humbling himself to suffer and die for my sins so that I could be forgiven and go to heaven. That is what matters most. All the other periphery is evidence of God’s love. These other things are blessings that we are thankful for. But the main focus of this church has always been what Christ our King has done for us. That is what we celebrate today. That is whom we worship today.
So where do we go from here? It has been an extraordinary five years filled with extraordinary blessings from our extraordinary king. What now? What should we plan for next? What kind of vision should we have?
Yes, we can dream about being an even larger school. We can dream about incredible test scores. We can dream about new technologies. We can dream about a massive new school building.
But how about this for a vision and a reputation in the community? Christ the King School is a school that has teachers who love Jesus more than anything else in the world. All the other stuff will fall into place, because teachers who love Jesus will naturally love their students and their parents. Teachers who love Jesus will give their best and work the hardest. Teachers who love Jesus will faithfully serve and do whatever it takes for an excellent Christian education. If there is advice for our three new teachers and the others coming back for next year, it’s this: Love Jesus and serve Jesus.
And yes, we can dream about being a larger church, too. We can dream about more vicars in future years or needing a second pastor. We can dream about adding more chairs and then additional services because we have 500 or 700 members. We can even dream about turning this sanctuary into a fellowship hall and building a new, bigger, even more beautiful sanctuary on the other side where the playground is for 1,000 members (Yes, I’ve already thought about that!).
But how about this instead for a vision and a reputation in the community? Christ the King Church is a church filled with members who love Jesus more than anything else in the world. Christ the King members love Jesus. They live Jesus. They give to Jesus. They share Jesus.
For five years Christ the King Church and School has put Jesus as the center of everything we live, do, and teach. All the other things are just more extraordinary blessings from our extraordinary king.
God grant that for the next 5 years, 50 years, or 500 years, we the members of Christ the King keep Jesus at the center of our lives. He’ll take care of all the rest. God be with us in this vision. God bless us in this vision.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!”
Posted on July 15, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Anniversary, Christ the King, Church, Crucifixion, Extraordinary, Jesus, John, John 19, King, Sermons, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.