Sermon 11/25/2007 (Christ the King) – “Today”

November 27, 2007 at 12:39 pm Leave a comment

There’s a great scene from the movie, The Longest Day,

which is about the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War II.

An old Frenchman who lives on the beach always wakes up first thing in the morning.

The first thing he sees out the window every day is the overweight German soldier

bringing the morning coffee to the men who man the beach guns.

On D-Day, he opens the windows as usual, but this time something is different.

He and the German soldier see at the same time the Allied fleet

massed off the coast,

and when the guns of the fleet open up,

he sees the soldier knocked off his horse and running for cover.

As the bombardment intensifies, his wife is in hysterics, afraid for her life,

but the old Frenchman loves it.

He pulls out the tricolor, the flag of France,

runs to the window and begins waving it for all he’s worth,

screaming not in terror, but in joy.

Sure, the bombs are falling, but what does it matter?

Liberty comes.  The enemy flees.  Freedom is here.

Now there was no French king who was sailing across the Channel that day.

There were only a handful of French who participated in the actual D-day invasion.

But the theme of a king returning from exile

is a powerful one in story.

He invades his own land, not trespassing, but occupying his rightful place.

When he kicks out the ruling party, he does so because the ruling party

has usurped his authority.

Two of the best-selling movie franchises of recent days

are variants on that theme.

In Star Wars it is Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight,

who returns from exile, as it were, to defeat the Emperor and his minions,

to win back his father from evil.

In Lord of the Rings, Aragorn, son of Arathorn,

descendant of the kings of Gondor,

returns to that land to defeat its enemies

and rule justly in the place of the unwise and unjust steward.

But the Frenchman from the Longest Day

is the only image I have of the one who is longing for that return from exile.

Day after day he has to watch as foreigners occupy his land.

Day after day he must endure the humiliation

and ask, “how long? how long?”

And one day, he doesn’t have to wait anymore.

It’s today that the free peoples return from exile,

today that he can bring out the flag that has been hidden away.

Sisters and brothers,

the story of the people of God

is the story of a people in exile.

Whether you’re in the part of the Old Testament where the people of Israel

are exiled in Egypt

or you’re reading the part where they are in Babylon,

they know they’re supposed to be somewhere else.

They’re supposed to be in the land that was promised.

So they are looking for a day when God will bring them back from exile

to that promised land.

God did it once in bringing them back from Egypt,

and they wait for him to do it again.

But what happens when they’re actually in the land?

The story of their lives does not end happily,

but the problems continue –

they are harassed by unworthy leaders,

shepherds who do not care for the flock.

It is not that they are in exile, the people…

but the king is in exile.

They are in the land, but God in the person of his king

is missing.

And so they wait for that promised return.

God himself has promised that he will send them new shepherds,

raise up a righteous Branch, someday.

In between that someday and their present they wait,

watching the foreign occupiers ride past,

living with their own sin and the sins of others,

Has God abandoned them or rejected them?

Is God to be angry forever?

When will the “someday” become “today?”

We might ask the question too.

For we wonder as well sometimes whether or not we are a people

from whom God is in exile.

If we are confident people who build upon past accomplishments for future success,

we may not experience that.

But none of us are that confident all of the time,

and some of us are confident not much of the time.

Perhaps in secret places we don’t talk about readily,

we too know the feeling of that Frenchman,

opening our eyes every morning

only to see the enemy ride past in his security and swagger,

and asking, “How long?”

We look toward the future, half fearful, half hopeful,

asking when will the promised someday become today?

Today.

The angels above Bethlehem cry out,

Today is born to you in the city of David, a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

The young man in the synagogue in Nazareth cries out,

Today this Scripture of release and salvation is fulfilled in your hearing.

The prophet stands with the hated tax collector Zacchaeus and cries out,

Today salvation has come to this house, for he too is a son of Abraham.

The crucified man lifts his head from his chest and cries out,

Today you shall be with me in paradise.

The Jesus Luke proclaims is always the Jesus of “today.”

His very presence is the today of salvation, God’s return from exile

to his own land, to his own people,

to us, to all who long for his salvation.

We could have never expected it,

for by our sin we have cast him out and rejected him,

and lived in a world where his power is unknown

and the power of those shepherds who destroy the sheep of the pasture is rampant.

But he comes, and the miracle is that wherever he is,

in the manger, on the cross, in the Word, on our tongues,

the “today” of God’s return from exile is here.

Friends,

the exiled one is king again –

the guns are still firing and the world does not recognize him,

but he is here among us.

He offers his salvation to a child today.

He speaks his word of authority today.

He feeds me and you with his presence today.

Though the strife of life continues,

we are full of joy,

for the King of heaven has returned to his earth in Jesus Christ,

and where he is, is paradise.

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Entry filed under: Sermons.

Sermon 11/11/2007 – “They’re So Sad, You See” It ain’t necessarily so…

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