Revised Common Lectionary Reflection, Christ the King Sunday, Proper 29, Year B
November 25, 2018
Lessons: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, Psalm 93, Revelation 1:4b-8, John 18:33-37
Theme: On the last Sunday of the church year, God’s faithful and generous people consider their legacy in light of their uncommon king Jesus.
Key Scripture: Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37
What comes to mind when you consider the word “legacy”? For many people the standard dictionary definition of “a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one person to another. It is something descendible one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited or received from a predecessor.” Even many modern obituaries are shared digitally through a service called legacy.com.
As followers of Jesus, however, our understanding of legacy should be much more expansive and organic. Life and legacy coach Jill Korstrom defines the concept this way:
“Legacy is more about sharing what you have learned, not just what you have earned, and bequeathing values over valuables, as material wealth is only a small fraction of your legacy. A more holistic definition of legacy is when you are genuinely grounded in offering yourself and making a meaningful, lasting and energizing contribution to humanity by serving a cause greater than your own. The requirements of a legacy are that you embrace your uniqueness, passionately immersing your whole self into life so that your gift will be to all and that you take responsibility to ensure that it will have a life beyond that of you, its creator, outliving and outlasting your time on earth.”
What does this notion of “legacy” have to do with Christ the King Sunday? Why stewardship of all life, of course! Like our ancient Hebrew siblings before us, we still echo that old refrain “Give us a king.” Even our language and posture on Christ the King Sunday often feels more parallel to cultural norms and the desire for a powerful and dynamic leader than it does countercultural and subversive. Note how Jesus responds to Pilate’s questions in this week’s gospel lesson. If that’s not a subversive response to power, I’m not sure what else might more readily qualify! Yes, we have a king in Jesus, but his reign is not “of this world” and its structures but of lasting eternal proportions.
On this last Sunday of the church year, consider focusing on what it means to leave a legacy—both as people of faith individually and as the beloved community gathered in a particular place and time. If our legacy is comprised of everything we believe, say, and do, then truly considering our legacy is a lifelong work of subversive stewardship. Invite each person to ponder the kind of legacy they to leave for future generations and those they love. What kind of communal legacy do they wish to leave behind as the beloved community that gathers in a particular place? How will people know that we are Jesus followers, and what sets us apart from the way the world looks at power, prestige, and legacy?
Yes, we will serve someone or something, be it a king, a president, an ethos of nationalism, money, or stuff. Like our ancient siblings, we cry out for a king. Our broken humanity convinces us that we “need” the same things as those around us. Jesus, however, stands in quiet and defiant opposition to the ways and wiles of the world. Listen to him and learn a better way.
With Advent beginning next week, why not introduce a stewardship series or emphasis on leaving a legacy? Advent is a time of waiting, pondering, and anticipating; this can be a perfect time to legacies of time, talent, and resources. We all will leave a legacy, so as faithful stewards we can ponder and begin to live into that legacy. We will be exploring this theme in Advent using key words from the Advent confession: “Show us. Teach us. Lead us” and the call to “stir up” that we hear in the weekly Advent prayer of the day.
This week consider inviting someone who has made a legacy gift to your congregation to give a brief talk about why they made this choice and how it has affected their understanding of stewardship. Perhaps someone has designated the congregation as beneficiary of a life insurance policy, has assigned some stock over to the congregation, or has included the congregation in their will. Celebrate those who have died in the faith and left your congregation a legacy that is already benefiting ministries and mission through an endowment fund.
You might also invite someone who is known for a “legacy of love” through faithful ministry to talk about why they give of their time and talents to support that particular ministry or ministries. While a legacy certainly includes a financial element and sound decisions about abundance of resources, a legacy of love and care is within reach of everyone in the congregation right now.
Invite youth to ponder what traits they look for and desire in leaders. Are there key differences in leaders in their school and in national political office, or are the traits of leadership basically the same? Have them google leadership traits and discuss whether they believe there are other leadership traits that are important. Here’s one example from forbes.com. How would they define Jesus’ leadership traits? What is Jesus’ legacy for us today? How can we lead like Jesus in a world that operates according to very different standards.
This week’s focus verse is brought to you by the unusual book of Daniel!
The Lord is King./The Lord wears majesty and strength like clothes./He is ready, so the whole world is safe./It will not be shaken. Psalm 93:1 (ERV)
Use the Easy-to-Read Version of Psalm 93 to talk with the children about how “big” and amazing our God really is. No earthly leader comes close to God, and that is why we can always depend on God to love us, be with us, and care for us. Consider giving this psalm a “kinesthetic” reading by adding motions for the children to act out. Finish with a simple prayer giving thanks to God for loving us, for sending us Jesus as a new sort of leader, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit who always goes with us.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
This week’s lessons invite us to consider Jesus’ legacy and our own individual and congregational legacies. What do we want to leave for those we love and those who will come after us? What gifts of time, talent, and resources will ensure that the gospel continues to be proclaimed and that ministry and mission happen in this place and beyond?
Stewardship at Home
If you could write your own obituary what would you hope that your legacy might be? How would you want to be remembered? Try it out! Write a draft of a legacy obituary for yourself, planning on living to a ripe old age. After drafting it, consider what plans you might need to put into action now to ensure this legacy.
Consider this poem by Dawna Markova:
I will not die an unlived life
I will not live in fear of falling
Or of catching fire
I choose to inhabit my days
To allow my living to open me,
Making me less afraid
To loosen my heart
So that it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise
I choose to risk my significance.
To live so that,
that which comes to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom.
And that which comes to me as blossom
Goes on as fruit.
Here’s a look back at our 2015 Lectionary Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2015/11/not-from-around-these-part/
And here’s the 2012 Lectionary Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2012/11/listen%E2%80%A6can-you-hear-him/
Photos: Yaffa Phillips, Waiting for the Word, and gilliu00, Creative Commons usage license. Thanks!
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