My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over. Now there’s a telling statement that we’re gonna have to unpack. That sounds about right doesn’t it? That’s because we are used to kings and kingdoms of THIS world. Behind this statement is a lot of very important history and an indication of something radically new and different taking place, or maybe not so new as being put back right with a twist. The important thing is that it is the opening of the door to the exciting reality of some really good news and a deeper understanding of how God seeks to touch our lives through it. My journey into the scripture for today started out on one of my sort of weird comedic notes, but as it turns out that had a very deep and meaningful impact for me and opened up a deeper understanding and opportunity to grow. It’s Christ the King Sunday. It’s the last Sunday of the Church year, so it’s also a great opportunity to sum things up. I will admit, that when I saw and heard the words Christ the King, my mind automatically popped off a one liner that I bet quite a few people of my generation hear in their heads when they hear someone is a king. The scene is King Arthur skipping along pretending to ride a horse with his servant, Patsy, banging coconuts halves together to sound like a horse galloping. He comes to a village where death hangs in the air, everything has a sense of nastiness, and the people are suffering to exist. Arthur really stand out in his armor and bright white tunic. A villager asks another, “Who’s that?” Must be a King. How do you know he’s a king? (And I’m going to slightly readjust a word here) Because he hasn’t got excrement all over him.” Thank you Monty Python. There you have it. The big difference in the two worlds that begs the question of what a kins supposed to be. In this scene you can see the disconnection between Arthur and the peasants that inhabit his kingdom and that disconnection is ever so important to what God so desperately wants us to see. During the French revolution, it was reported that when Marie Antoinette was told that her subjects didn’t have bread to survive she said, “Let them eat cake”. Technically, “Let them eat brioche” a much more expensive complex type of bread. Scholars are pretty sure that she did not say this but that it was used to show how out of touch, disconnected, unaware and unconcerned she was about the peoples’ plight. She lived a much different life and was not confronted with the harsh realities of existence. She didn’t have stuff all over her. So I was thinking about kings and I remembered college or seminary where we were learning about Israel asking for a king and how God was upset about it, so I set out to refresh my memory and am so glad that I did. Here’s the story from the 8th chaper of 1 Samuel with a little bit of my commentary: When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah,and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. OK there’s the problem. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. So God is warning them that kings tend to get the long end of the stick in a kingship deal. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” Listen especially to this part. But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, (So to keep up with the Joneses) with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.” They are not listening very well, which is pretty much par for their course and pretty much ours as well, and they have obviously never played chess. Kings don’t go out front and fight. They usually just move to save themselves and they have many other pieces that get sacrificed and fight the battle. Throughout their history has placed very unlikely leaders before them. Moses who had public speaking difficulty, Gideon who was not a soldier and David the kid with the slingshot.God points this out, even after the indignity of being rejected. God had always been the King and ruler of Israel. It gets reiterated by the people seeking to crucify Jesus. Remember, they say, “We have no king but Caesar!” I envision God saying, Guys I’m right here. You know I can hear you, right? Forward into Jesus’ day and the people are still lost on their vision of what a king is and looks like and the power and security they AND WE think it offers, all the while resenting the subjugation, costs and disconconnected royalty. We cling to the Arthurs and Antoinettes that don’t have stuff all over them, and it’s not just king’s royalty but strategies, methods, ideals, self-determinism, self reliance and general selfishness that are placed on the throne. This is where Monty Python’s peasants get it wrong, the Israelites complaining to Samuel get it wrong, those with this world’s expectations of Jesus get it wrong and many more through the ages to us who continue to make the same mistakes based on an erroneous belief system about who or what we will tolerate having dominion over our lives. Our common sense, worldly wisdom is dashed to pieces in Jesus Christ. We linger in our visions of glowing white raiments, not unlike Arthur’s tunic, gold crown and the sword excalibur. Jesus has stuff all over him. Jesus is not disconnected. Jesus, throughout his ministry is deeply involved in remediating the suffering and hunger around him, but he fails to live up to our twisted and actually incoherent expectations. Let’s face it, clean sparkly Jesus is just easier on the eyes, yet Jesus covered from head to toe in our miserable circumstances and somehow that doesn’t seem worthy. It’s just unappealing. We give lip service to the idea of kings going before us into battle and winning for us as our champion, but the kings we serve tend to take more than give as God pointed out. All the while, we, like one Monty Python peasant that interacts with the king, cry out, “Come see the violence inherent in the system, HELP I’m being repressed.” God warned us then and continues to, today. As Pogo the Possum would say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Yet, we are called to the cross, to follow and serve the king of kings, to experience great comfort in a king that’s not disconnected but that set aside the power and prestige to be with us and one of us, and that was willing to suffer the ultimate indignity of death on a cross and that has it all over him and is not ashamed. This is truly a champion going out before us to win the battle. The cross was mired in the depths of excrement, misery and human suffering, the enemy of life and light and Jesus faced it alone to conqueror it and rise from the grave. Jesus having the worst all over him may seem like foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are up to their neck in it and being saved, it is the power of God. Hear the Good News, God is with us, always. Amen.