Reign of Christ Challenge

Isaiah 11:1-9; Luke 9:57-62                                            Guest Preacher: Lara Rae

What a special day it is for us all here today.  Not because as a substitute preacher I’m going to let you leave the lesson early, or hold the sermon outside, although I’m a people pleaser.

There’s just such a confluence of small veins and streams of history, and scripture and personal experience that meet at the mouth of this day, a day that will rise and fall and be gone, for nothing is permanent in this universe, but love.

Today, is a marked day on the liturgical calendar.  A day of endings: it’s the last week of the Season after Pentecost.

June 10 to Nov 30th inclusive.  That’s a big chunk of time.  I always wondered how that came about? Those early days of the church were a long series of board meeting, like many boards of directors, filled with men, people, literally with time on their hands.  How did they get to naming this great long season we all made it through, what was that meeting like:

It’s like Advent! Christmas! Epiphany! Lent! Holy Week! Easter! and then it’s like they ran out of gas: Hey, other Church Fathers what do you want to name the holy times during the summer and fall and someone’s like: just call it all the Season After Pentecost, and then we’re done. Let’s get to the cottage, bishop.

So here we are.  At the end of the Christian Year. The Sunday before the first Sunday of the Christian New Year.  Advent– The Arrival.

We are departing and then we arrive.  To everything there is a season. And just to show my age, I always sing in my mind: to everything there is a season, Turn, Turn, Turn.

Always in transition. Transition, an important word for me.  But all in good time.

We look forward now to this busy season of Christmas.  A week from today, like a child, I’ll put up that Advent calendar, puncture that perforation and drop a nice 8am chocolate into my mouth.

Christmas always brings out the child in me. I can’t wait.  And so, even though the season is not yet here, I slipped this into my CD player.  (Lara holds up CD)

I run a food insecurity group called PANTRY and while we make food, I always play opera. But yesterday, impatient as a child, I put this on.

Weihnacht music.  Holy night music. I have a great love of German. I love how scattered our human tongues are.  How each language will capture the essence of a word where English lost resonance or takes another linguistic path.

I talked about being a child at Christmas. In German, child is Kinder.  Or we could deliberately mispronounce it: kinder.

Which brings us as James Joyce would say by a commodius victus of recirculation back to the business of today.

Nov 24th.  Grey Cup Sunday. But also and more crucial: Reign of Christ Sunday. Feast of Christ Sunday.

What a blessing to be invited on this day to speak with you today.  For what happens during the Reign of Christ? For one, the promise of the prophet Isaiah is fulfilled.

With righteousness shall he judge the poor, and bring equity for the meek of the earth. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den.   Cockatrice!

Another wonderful creature from the medieval bestiary.  A fierce dragon with the head of a rooster. Like many transgender children I was obssessed with mythical mashups.  Mermaids, centaurs.

Creatures half of one thing, half another.  Before my mind could make words like transgender I had pictures in my mind’s eye of this strange netherworld I inhabited.  Knowing I was a girl in an upside down world, was my earliest memory.

And it’s quite a time we live in today, as we journey into this Kin-dom of Christ.

There’s another kind of upside down world foretold in Isaiah which Jesus preaches about on the Mount.  He tells those with ears to hear: the Times they are a changin.

“The line is drawn a curse it is cast. The slow one now will later be fast, as the present now, will later be past, the old road is rapidly fading, get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand. For the times they are a changin.”

Topsy turvy.  A world uprighted. A world and us turned on our heads.

The folk tradition also gives another song that frames this Reign of Christ as a time for social justice.  The song: A World Turned Upside Down remembers the Diggers rebellion of 1649. The Diggers or Levellers great protestants all, believed in egalitarianism, and that all humans have Dominion over the land, not just the rich.

(sings)

You poor take courage, you rich take care, this world was made a common treasury for everyone to share, all things in  common, all people one.–

And how was the call answered?  As it always is, in this broken temporal world…

“all things in common, all people one…We come in peace, the order came to cut them down.”

In Hong Kong, in Bolivia, in Chile… the orders come to cut them down.

But coming from the Quaker tradition. this Kin-dom, this dominion of kin, this kind dominion of Christ occurs in holy silence away from the rubber bullets and tear gas.

It occurs for us Quakers in what Yeats called that foul rag and bone shop of my heart.

What does this day mean to me, a transgender woman preaching before you today? What comes from my heart to bring individual meaning to this day?

Well, a great confluence of things come to my mind as you transition in this liturgical year to a journey to an affirming church –and what a beautiful sermon you enjoyed last week on the concept of non binary.

What means affinity today, during this feast of Christ, this Reign of Christ?

Pope Pius dedicates an entire encyclical to this day and its meaning. And boy, is it timely:

How often we covet a discipleship that doesn’t get in the way of our daily business.

But Jacob Marley finds out far too late as he sits alone in the counting house that humanity was his business

In 1925, having endured a war meant to end all wars the world drove headlong into another holocaust.

Like Stephen Deadlus in Ulysses, Pope Pius feared those big words that make us so unhappy: Nationalism, patriotism, militarism.

Why seek divisions and build walls when we can affirm each other under an immortal banner: The Reign of Christ, unending.

So many LGBT people are rejected by their biological families. It’s why we make up 60 percent of the youth with no shelter.

Their families as Hamlet says of his, are more than kin and less than kind.

Remember Jesus preaching by the shore when his brothers and sisters come?   Rabbi Jesus issues a mitzvah both a command and a good deed:

To paraphrase:  His brothers and sisters say: come, it’s dinnertime Jesus, come along.

But kinship is his feast, and humankind is his business. We are Jesus’ business and each others business: all other business is busy-ness.

I have this duty to attend, says one man.
Humanity is your duty, Mr. Busynessman, says Jesus.

I need to bury my brother first, says another kin.

Let the dead bury the dead, Jesus says.

Is now a good time to come to the feast of Christ?

Do I have time today to save my brother, to help my sister, to extend a greeting to the transgender folx, to the muslim, to the kurds, to the fallen, to the hungry to the poor, to the planet earth sustainer of our temporal well-being?

I’ll come in a minute, right after this, right after I finish watching my show.

How dare you, says the voice of a child, a child who leads, named Greta.

How dare you, says Jesus.

Part of my duty in this, and in my life is to do the same.

See all, as my kin, even those who would want me dead.  Those who want us dead, succeeded 331 times last year in snuffing out the lives of my trans sisters.

But who also was hated, that I may emulate?

Christ yes, but also the Samaritan.

If I, among the hated, like the Samaritan, the Muslim the OTHERS of any day, might show by feeding the poor and living life with grace, as best I may, might bring you here today as a congregation to affirming my right to exist then my duty is done.

To be affirmed, to be here; there and everywhere, as the love of Christ surely be, for ever and ever AMEN.