The Last Sunday after Pentecost
Readings — II Samuel 23: 1-7; Psalm 132: 1-19; Revelation 1: 4b-8; John 18: 33-37
This Jesus, I think he was a blue-collar guy. It is written that his father Joseph was a village carpenter, and his mother Mary has traditionally been depicted as a peasant, perhaps a seamstress and weaver. So, Jesus grew up in a blue-collar household, and following his father’s early death, supported his mother and brothers and sisters as a carpenter. He began his public ministry with a group of Galilean fishermen.
I think it is a bit unfortunate that this last Sunday of the Church year is often entitled, “Christ the King” Sunday. In our reading from the Gospel according to St. John, we hear this Jesus in conversation with Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor. Jesus said – “You say that I am a king”. [However] For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the Truth”. Jesus, just before his crucifixion, and I am paraphrasing a bit, said, “I am not a king; I am a Truth-teller; I tell it like it is; I see Reality as it is”. He continued, “Everyone who belongs [who seeks the Truth] listens to my voice”. Seekers of Truth, seekers of Reality, they follow this blue-collar man, this carpenter born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Our text from Revelation calls Jesus “the faithful witness… who loves us and freed us from our sins [from our missteps, from our miss directed ways] by his blood”. Again, to paraphrase, Jesus put his life on the line, he suffered, he struggled, for us because, because he loves us! Using an Advent term, Jesus in flesh and blood was with the everyday people, was Emmanuel. He was not dressed in finery; he did not eat from a silver spoon; he did not live in a palace; he did not travel in a chariot. Jesus moved among the ordinary, everyday people of his own day. Jesus was a blue-collar guy living the Truth, testifying to the Truth. As Polonius declared in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “to thine own self be true”. That’s how Jesus lived.
And that’s how I think we are called to live. To live the Truth, to our own self [ as the person God created us to be], to our own self be true. To live our own Truth is a lifetime journey!
Now if Jesus is the New Adam, the new role model, the True image for our humanity, our True selves are modeled to be like him. We, too, are called to serve the greater good, to see way beyond our own self-interests, to serve the best interests of all humanity, indeed, to see and to serve the best interests of all creation. We, too, are called to love others and to free others from their missteps, from their miss directions, by our tears, by our sweat, by our blood.
Let’s circle back. As Jesus was a blue-collar guy, working, struggling, bleeding, and dying on behalf of the Truth out of love for us, so, too, we are to be blue-collar worker bees, working, struggling, bleeding, and dying on behalf of the Truth out of love for others. This is our destiny; this is our life’s work.
Now I know that I cannot work, I cannot labor, hour after hour like I could in my younger days. And, as I look around, I see that the same may be a reality for some of you as well. Still, we are never done until our very last breath, always looking for opportunities to testify to the Truth, always looking for opportunities to bear witness to the Light.
Gathered together, we can continue, even in challenging times to love and to together be a powerful witnesses.
Again, we turn to the man who after this conversation with Pontius Pilate hung on the cross, exhausted, suffocating, bleeding, and being mocked by the crowd. In his last moments, what did Jesus do? Scripture tells us that
he called out to God moving through despair into thanksgiving; he asked for forgiveness for those who did not understand, for those who did not yet get it; he promised to a crucified thief entry into paradise; he made sure his mother Mary would be cared for by disciple; he declared that his work was complete, and he gave his spirit back to God.
There is so much more we can do in our days to come, however many they will be. God is never done loving us, and standing with us for the Truth, and will do so until our very last breath.
For this we were born, for this we came into the world, to testify to the Truth, the Truth that Jesus is the Way, that Jesus is the Truth, that Jesus is the Life for us all!