Thursday, November 14, 2013

God's Realm Is Among Us -- Alternative Lectionary for Reign of Christ Sunday



The cycle of the Church Year is coming to an end.  On the 24th of the Month we will celebrate the Reign of Christ.  In the texts for the day, we see this concept expressed in a variety of ways.  We see Daniel and friends choosing to follow a different calling -- rejecting the royal food for that pleasing to God.  In Revelation the Lord reveals himself as the First and Last, and thus a revelation of the reign of God.  Finally, in the Gospel Jesus reveals that the realm of God is already present in our midst.  May we be observant of the signs of that Reign.   Just a note, this is the first of several Sundays where we'll find the Book of Daniel in use -- a book we rarely visit.

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Reign of Christ Sunday


November 24, 2013
“God’s Realm Is Among Us”
Call to Worship:  Psalm 9:1-8 NRSV
One:  I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Many:  I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
One:  When my enemies turned back, they stumbled and perished before you.
Many:  For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.
One:  You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
Many:  The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins; their cities you have rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.
One:  But the Lord sites enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment.
Many:  He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity.
Gathering Prayer:  On this last Sunday in the church year, we come together to worship you.  In this ever-changing world, help us to look to you as our deliverer and our hope.  Amen.
Confession:  As this year comes to an end, we reflect on what we have done and realize that we have fallen short of your desires for us.  We have put our trust in ourselves instead of you.  We have been like our ancestors in faith who rejected your leadership and looked instead to corrupt opportunists who led us down paths of destruction.  Have mercy on us and change us, so that we might know you as our ultimate leader, who saves and delivers us.  Amen.
Assurance:  God knows our faults and how vulnerable and fragile we human beings are.  God forgives us and makes us new this day.  In response, let’s give thanks to God as we look to the new life that awaits us through Jesus, our Savior.  Amen.
ScripturesDaniel 1:1-17 – “Servants Eating Vegetables”
Revelation 1:9-18 – “One like the Son of Man”
Luke 17:20-21 – “The Kingdom Is Within You”
Commentaries and sermon ideas are available in Beyond the Lectionary.
Reflection Questions:
What are some of the lessons that can be learned from reading about how Daniel and his friends gained strength when they rejected the king’s food and ate vegetables instead?
What do you make of John of Patmos’ vision of Christ in Revelation 1?  Do you think this was a literal vision or the author’s attempt to “describe the indescribable”?
Does today’s brief reading from Luke 17 suggest that the “kingdom of God” is an internal thing that one must look inwardly to discover?  Or, is it about something else?
What do you think of the last Sunday of the church year being celebrated as Christ the King Sunday?  Does the imagery it offers comfort you or does it raise problems for you?  Does it make sense in today’s world?  Why or why not?
Prayer of Thanksgiving:  In these days of thanksgiving, we praise you for all the good you have given us.  Teach us to look to you and give you the honor and glory you deserve from us.  Amen.
Benediction:  As this year ends, we are sent forth as a people of new beginnings.  May we go out into the world and show that the realm of God has truly come among us.  Thanks be to God!  Amen.

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