Christ is King Sunday

So, I know Advent  has already started, but I wanted to take some time to backtrack to one of my favorite Sundays other than Easter, Christ is King Sunday.

If you aren’t familiar with Advent, it’s basically the month of December and the time that the Church recognizes and begins to look forward to Christ’s coming at Christmas, and also looks toward His second coming.

I heard a great Christ is King sermon on the 27th of November, and I want to share my musings with all of you. I will be honest, some of this is from the sermon, and some of it is my own ramblings. A lot of things were ideas that the pastor touched on and my brain just took off running, down several rabbit trails. Seriously, my brain sometimes looks like an ant farm.

The pastor read out of Revelation 22, and I have to tell you, the first five verses make me wish I could paint. I can just see it in my head, and I wish I could transfer it to paper. Just read this, and see what comes into your head.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And the night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5.

Beautiful, right?

Just like Revelation is a strange book, Christ is King Sunday is strange day. To me, it’s always felt kind of sandwiched in there, like someone thought, “We need to do SOMETHING with that Sunday before Advent starts. Do we have a Christ is King Sunday already? Let’s go with that.” Thank you, Church founders.

I heard a great sermon recently that used the verses in Revelation to remind us that this world here is not the end. Christ is coming back, and when He does, it’s going to be amazing and beautiful and we will praise Him all day. Amen.

Revelation also has verse 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, but something that struck me during this sermon is that God isn’t just the beginning and the ending, He’s every letter in between.

He’s the A and the Z, but He’s also the G and the W. Everything that exists is made by and loved by God, and while that can be hard to see in our broken world, I believe that everything that is happening breaks God’s heart much more than it could ever break mine.

There’s a song that I heard recently where someone was yelling at God to do something and God replies, “I did do something, I gave you a heart for your world and sent you to do my work.”

This really struck a cord in me, because it’s easy to say, “Hey God, our world’s a mess. Make it better, okay?” and much harder to say, “So, God, when I said, ‘Here I am, Lord, send me,’ I did mean it. What can I do to help heal my broken world?” Christ is King, but He gives us a choice in how we respond to Him.

I always think of God’s will and plan for my life as a GPS system, God knows where I started and where I’m going, and He knows the best route to get there. But sometimes, I miss the exit, or I don’t want to take the scenic route, or I have to take an earlier exit for some reason or my car explodes. God works with me and just reroutes the trip. I have a choice whether or not to follow the directions, but I’ve discovered it’s easier to do it God’s way and not my way.

Lots of verses in Scripture say that Christ is King, but that seems like a weird concept to me sometimes. A King is someone who, in some ways, has complete control over what his subjects do and say. And, let us all be honest. We like the freedom of choice. I like making decisions.

But, if I am saying that I am a Christian, I am saying that I am not in control of my life anymore, God is. I have given up the drivers seat, I am trusting my GPS unit, or whatever weird analogy works for you.

It boils down to this, God is not my advisor, He plans the trip and directs me where to go. Or, better yet:

God’s kingdom is not a democracy.

Not when He comes again, and not now.

God’s kingdom is not a democracy. And really, even if it was, would my vote REALLY be worth as much as His? That’s just illogical.

Nope. I don’t get to say, “Maybe we could try it this way, God, and see what happens,” and He says, “Oh, you outvoted me!” No, when God says “Jump,” I need to be willing to say, “Okay God, if You say so,” and jump.

I mean, I talk back to God all the time, but for me, it’s more of an obnoxious two-year old asking “Why?” all the time, just wanting to know and not trying to be rude; and I think that God knows that and chuckles a bit.

When God gives me commandments, whether in Scripture or my day-to-day life, I don’t get to pick and choose which I follow. They are not guidelines, they’re actual rules.

amazon pirate book
We are not pirates. Photo: Amazon

This is scary. It’s scary to say “Okay, where You lead, I will follow,” and then doing it. But it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that God won’t lead us into dangerous places. I have a pastor who said, “If it does, someone find me that verse, because I want to put it on my fridge.”

No, what God promises us is that He will never leave us or forsake us. When Moses tries to talk God out of sending him to Pharaoh, God tells him, “Go. I will be with you and teach you what to say” (Ex 4:12).

Sometimes, God calls us to do things that are dangerous and scary, and He promises to go with us. Following God and obeying Him can be dangerous, but it’s always worth it.

It reminds me of the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring, (yeah, I’m a huge Tolkien nerd. Sorry not sorry) where Bilbo points out that it’s dangerous going out of your door, because if you don’t watch your feet, you don’t know where they’ll take you. I think God calls us to let Him be our feet, letting Him take us where He leading us.

In the end, it’s always worth it, because God’s plan is so much better than mine could ever be.

The idea that Christ is in charge and is coming back also reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents would go into town, leaving a list of chores that they wanted done, or at least started and well underway, by the time they got back.

When I was older and cell phones were a thing, they would call before they left the store and tell us that they were 20 minutes away. When I was a bit younger, you just had to estimate that you had about 40 minutes to get things done, but it could be shorter and it could be longer.

Either way, my siblings and I knew Mom and Dad were coming back. They were probably bringing doughnuts, and it was exciting, not just because of the doughnuts but because we love our parents and couldn’t wait to see them again (even though it had only been 40 minutes).

However, we knew that we had better be doing what we were supposed to be doing when they got home. That list of chores wasn’t a suggestion. For me, it added a level of terrifying to the excitement; what if I wasn’t doing things correctly? Why did I read for 15 minutes instead of just jumping into my chores? And the list goes on.

I think that’s how it is when God says He’s coming back, only we don’t have a real minute-by-minute estimate and He’s not calling on His cell phone when he’s 20 minutes out.

My last thoughts on Christ is King comes from an interview I overheard (in my defense, they were being really loud). Someone claimed that every time a Christian talks to a non-believer, if the non-believer doesn’t leave the conversation saved, that’s a failure on the part of that Christian.

That’s just not based in Scripture at all. Paul mentions at least once that we don’t know where other people are in their walk, that’s between them and God. Some of us plant the seed, some water, some nurture, sometimes we do a bit of all three, but when the plant blooms isn’t always something we need to know.

And, frankly, if we do what God tells us to do and share His love with the world, it’s none of our business. Again, it’s between the person and God and not for me to crow over or add to my Bible that I saved so and so. I didn’t do anything. God did.

The instance I’m thinking of is in 1 Corinthians 3:5-14. Paul goes a bit further, adding a metaphor about building, but it’s a same basic thing.

The last thing that I overheard that I want to address was an example of God being on trial when non-believers ask questions about Him and Him being in the criminal’s seat while we are His lawyers.

Apparently, when God is on trial, we can say, “Don’t worry God, I got this.” This made me uncomfortable for one major reason.

My God doesn’t need me to defend Him. He is the Lord of all creation, the A and the Z and all the letters in-between, and He’s got this.

He is the Judge and the Jury and the Executioner, but He is also our Lawyer. We are in the criminal box, and the only person who can pass a sentence is also the person who died for our sins and therefore won’t, Jesus Christ.

To me, Christ is King Sunday is a reminder that my God is just and He is my King. He gave me rules and guides me, and I should probably do what He says. But if I mess up, like I do, He offers me grace and mercy that I don’t deserve. And that’s pretty awesome.

I hope you enjoyed my musings. If you want to think on this and comment, feel free to, but if you don’t, it’s no skin off my nose 🙂 It’s really between you and God anyway.

Have a wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trauma at the Hands of a Book

I had grand plans for my first post to be something serious, but then I found this that I had written and never posted, so I thought, eh. The best laid plans. So, here it is. This is one of the things that you can expect from me (with some serious things in there occasionally).

I know it sounds cliché, but I enjoy thinking about books that influenced or impacted me as a kid. When I wrote the original post, I had been talking with my sister and her roommate about the Hobbit Movies (which I may talk about here later), which morphed into a discussion of the most traumatic childhood reading deaths.

So here, for your enjoyment, are the top fifteen traumatic book moments from my childhood at the hands of brilliant authors. Seriously, read these books. Obviously, here be spoilers.

Of course, these are cut off at the end of my childhood, so series like The Hunger Games, The Lunar Chronicles, and A Song of Ice and Fire are out (though all are highly recommended).

(Spoilers for the Anne of Green Gables Series, Little Women, The Redwall Series, Jurassic Park, The Hobbit, Bridge to Terebithia,  Harry Potter, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, and  Meet Addy: An American Girl).

15. Old Yeller in Old Yeller. I put this here because I never read the book-the movie was too sad and I wasn’t going to walk myself right into THAT sob-fest. I’ve heard it’s a great book, but that several boxes of tissues are required.

14. The fact that Jo and Laurie don’t get together in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Less traumatic, more disappointing; I kept hoping that they would figure it out. I can understand it, talking to other people I see the reasons that they didn’t get together, but I did want him to figure out that he couldn’t change her (and that he didn’t really want to).

13. Joy’s death in Anne’s House of Dreams by LM Montgomery. Joy was the first child of Anne and Gilbert, and she died soon after her birth. She only had a few pages, but those few pages conveyed grief and did make a mark on my young self.

12. Beth March’s death in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. When I reread Little Women, I skip this section. Beth March was never my favorite, I always liked Meg best (though Jo was cool too), but I remember being very upset. Why do people keep killing off main characters?!

11. Mrs. Bankvole and Friar Hugo from Mattimeo by Brian Jacques. Before George RR Martin started killing off innocent characters, there was Brian Jacques. These two were causalities of Slagar the Cruel’s revenge plot and his kidnapping of all the children of Redwall Abbey. One of my favorite books, these deaths brought a reality to this fictional world and made me fear for the other characters.

10. Rose from Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques. Seriously, Mr. Jacques? She dies a hero, but still, it was awful that she did die. I remember hating this book, and I think that was part of the reason.

9. Where the Red Fern Grows. Just…the whole book. The second book I ever cried at. That ending. Still cry.

8. John Hammond in Jurassic Park by Michael Crighton. Poor idiot, just trying to let kids see dinosaurs only to be eaten by compys. If I had thought this book would have a happy ending for anyone (even the survivors were traumatized!), this proved me wrong. The creator killed by his creation (very Frankenstieny of you, Mr. Crighton).

7. Veil in The Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques. The basic idea of this book is that a ferret is raised by a mousemaid in Redwall Abbey (the former being generally evil in the Redwall Universe) and he struggles to overcome his father’s legacy of evil and the evil he fears inside of him. His father ferret is also engaging in war with Sunflash the Mace, the coolest Badger Lord ever written. In the end, Veil embraces the Dark Side and runs away to join his father. His adopted mother goes after him, with some amazingly written consequences.

6. Matthew Cuthbert’s death in Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. This is high up here because Matthew Cuthbert was an amazing character and his death was really sad. It was also one of the first times a major character was killed off; I loved the balance he added to the Green Gables family. LM Montgomery never replaced him, but she gave Anne and Marilla other characters to love, and Matthew’s legacy lived on, at least to readers.

5. I was a big fan of the American Girls books growing up, but the first book about Addy is one the most punch-packing thing I have ever read. It was written for a younger audience (eight or so), but man. First, Addy missed some little green worms while clearing the tobacco plants and is forced to eat them. Then, her father and brother were sold further South. There may have been a whipping involved too. Then Addy and her mother escape North, but they have to leave their baby behind.

I was so furious that this kind of thing happened to people, that I followed up with some reading on the Trail of Tears and Japanese Internment during WWII. (It took me a year or so to be proud to be an American again; I finally realized that great countries can do terrible, awful things, but we can’t let them define us, just make sure they never happen again). This book set the stage for the rest of the Addy series, and made her the bravest girl I had ever read about.

4. Methusialeah’s death in Redwall by Brian Jacques. I know that any death I put after my childhood realization of the horrors of slavery is going to look silly, especially when this one is a mouse, but this one really got me. Actually, all the deaths in this book were pretty awful. Gossun the shrew’s death helped cement my fear of snakes and I felt bad for Stella the Vixen, even if she was treacherous.

3. Sirius Black’s death in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. I have to not include books six or seven in here, because I was 18 and 20 when they came out (otherwise, several more deaths would be included here). But man! This death, I felt so bad for the guy. And Harry loses another father figure.

While Cedric Digory and Frank the Muggle from Goblet of Fire were shocking, Rowling spent three books getting us to like Sirius and imagining him as a Marauder. He was the first in a long line of major good guys that we had grown to love to bite the dust, and that makes his death all the more traumatic.

2.  Thorin and Fili and Kili’s deaths in The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien This is one of the first books that I remember reading on my own, so this one certainly packed a punch. I remember feeling that these three characters were safe (why would Tolkien kill the king and BOTH his heirs?) But no. Thorin was killed saving the others, and Fili and Kili killed trying to save him. Thanks a lot JRR. Thanks a lot.

1. Leslie’s death in Bridge to Tereabithia by Katherine Paterson. I feel like anyone who says they didn’t cry at this was lying. I had never cried at a book before, but I just bawled.