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The Reign of God
Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 20, 2022
Springwell Senior Living

 

A Meditation

Going to seminary was often a shock to my system. I discovered that the feast known as Christ the King had become problematic because of its hearkening to a male king. Even “king” was further problematic because of the depiction of great, even unearned power to the disadvantage of human power. And so, as these things go, the feast of Christ the King was consequently ignored because it was a “problem” without a discernable “solution.”

While I have been enthusiastic about the high place where I place humanity in the theological cosmos; and also am enthusiastic and penitent about the innumerable ways we have disadvantaged women in scripture and theology—nonetheless, I think it’s best that we don’t trip on our own shoelaces. Christ the King is a metaphor where the foundational premise is crucial to Christianity. Jesus was a real human being. Jesus did experience actual death because of his incarnational (i.e., fleshy) humanity. Jesus experienced resurrection from the dead, walked the earth again with his followers, ascended into heaven body and soul, as reigns over the cosmos until we all experience that ultimate resurrection and are reunited with God, in God’s and our existential culmination.

That faith statement in its fullness is what we celebrate here, at the end of each of our liturgical years. We imperfectly call it the feast of Christ the King, the Reign of God. While details are important, these details and our misgivings shouldn’t occlude the truth of the big statement we treasure as true. We, as human beings, are driven to improve things, to put a new coat of paint here, a new label there, and so on. However, there is also value in leaving stuff alone. So, how about continuing to use old framework and theology alone, in the ultimate understanding that God’s work will always exceed our capacity to name and describe. And agree that we’re not going to sweat the small stuff.

Pastor Neil

Gathering

Celebrant ☩ Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People     And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever.

Amen.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Celebrant         Jesus said, “The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

THE COLLECT OF THE DAY

Celebrant   The Lord be with you.
People        And also with you.

Celebrant Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
Old Testament

THE LESSON Jeremiah 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So, I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Reader The Word of the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.

Canticle 16

The Song of Zechariah
Luke 1: 68-79
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

 

The Gospel

Celebrant The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to Luke.

People Glory to you, O Lord.

Luke 23:33-43

When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. The people stood by, watching Jesus on the cross; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Celebrant     The Gospel of the Lord.
People          Praise to you, Lord Christ.

SERMON PASTOR O’FARRELL

THE APOSTLES’ CREED

Celebrant and People together, all standing

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Celebrant
In calling forth creation from the void, God you revealed yourself in human form. You manifest your concern for your whole universe. Hear the world’s needs, as we bring the matters of our hearts before you.

Lay Reader

Pour out your life-giving Spirit on your holy church throughout the world. Equip its members to boldly proclaim their common faith and your bountiful blessings across the earth. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Let your Spirit move over our unruly time and heal its people broken in spirit and body. Bring peace to a weary and struggling world. Intercede and bring peace to Ukraine, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Middle East, and the streets of Baltimore. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Help those suffering from mental illness, broken families, and homelessness. Protect Mother Earth from human neglect and destruction. Protect animals and species in danger from human selfishness, greed, and misadventure. This must break your heart as much as it breaks ours. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Create changed hearts within us. Help us to become our best selves, as you created us to be. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Burn out all that is evil in us. Consecrate us for holy service. Empower us to work toward the salvation of the world. Give us energy and insight for our personal missions. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Renew the faith of all who call you Lord, so that we may devote ourselves to worship, teaching, and prayer—all to reveal your grace to a fragile humanity. Give noble purpose to our secular leaders, and a desire to do justice in the land and in the world. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Be with those who are dying and ill, their families and loved ones. Bless the pastoral ministries of this congregation. Safeguard immigrants and refugees. Provide solace and healing to those beleaguered by the reality of their lives. Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

We especially pray for those we silently name now. (Pause) Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

Celebrant Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

A CONFESSION OF OUR SINS TO GOD

Celebrant Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbors.

Silence will be kept

Minister and People Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

Celebrant Almighty God have mercy on you, ☩ forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

THE PEACE

Celebrant The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People And also with you.

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING

Celebrant The Lord be with you.
People And also with you.
Celebrant Lift up your hearts.
People We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Celebrant It is indeed right and salutary that we should— in all times and in all places—give thanks to you, Almighty Father, through Jesus Christ your son. For by water and the Holy Spirit, you have made us a new people in Jesus Christ our Savior, to show forth your glory in all the world. Therefore, we praise your name and join angels and archangels by saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. ☩ Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself. When we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you in your mercy sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole
world.

On the night before his death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore, we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanks- giving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts. ☩ Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. ☩ Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace. And at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom. All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ.

By him, and with him, and in him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit
all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to pray:

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

THE CALL TO COMMUNION

Celebrant The gifts of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.

Celebrant will distribute communion to people in their chairs.

 

 

THE GENERAL THANKSGIVING

Celebrant Almighty and everliving God,

All We thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom. And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen

 

THE BLESSING

Celebrant Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering; do justice, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

DISMISSAL

Celebrant Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
People Thanks be to God.