Now I understand that biblical readings aren’t everyone’s favorite literature – it’s easy to turn them off – not see any relevance for our lives because we’ve been beat over the head so often by thundering preachers. However, for those of us who follow the liturgical calendar, today was the last Sunday of the Year. In liturgical parlance, it’s called “Christ the King” and in cycles B and C (we’re just finishing a C cycle) the gospel readings have scenes from the crucifixion. Today’s reading had Jesus being taunted, and even tempted, to save himself if he’s the King of the Jews as the sign above his head reads.
Temptation. Nah. Not for us. Don’t want to hear about being tempted. Too much like going to hell and all that stuff none of which any of us want to hear again, thank you.
However, what’s interesting about this temptation, for Jesus to save himself, is that’s it mirrors a temptation from the early part of his ministry when Satan takes him to a high place and tempts Jesus to make himself the ruler of the world. If Jesus turned down that chance to have it all, if he turned down the chance to save himself, how is it we now call him savior and king?
I guess king of what might be the question. King of the Jews? The Jews of that time were a pretty down-trodden people, ruled by Rome. The broken came to Jesus, ones who needed healing, ones who needed hope. His subjects were the poor and displaced. What kind of a kingdom is that? Jesus was kind, but a king? And if he’s a king for us, why do we all suffer so much? What are we “saved” from?
Perhaps we need to be saved from ourselves.
How many times have you beat up on yourself because of a mistake you made? How often have you found fault with another because of a mistake that person made? Are we tempted into un-kindness, for ourselves and others? Aren’t we tempted to judge, find fault, slide into anger, cut someone off in traffic, on a daily basis?
The end of the church year is another ending/beginning, another time to take stock. The best use of a church year calendar is to see how we’ve progressed in our spiritual lives from year to year. Where have we stumbled? Where have we grown?
Whether you follow the liturgical calendar or not, next week, we begin Advent, the Coming: the world is turning, the cycles change.
What part of your unkindness do you want to leave behind this year? What have you outgrown? What are you ready to move into? This might be a good week to write down what you want to leave behind as the year turns, put the choice you’ve made on a piece of paper, and put it in a place you’ll see each day. Practice the change. Forgive yourself when the old comes back to taunt you.
Along with what you want to put down, what spiritual idea or practice do you want to incorporate in your life. Keep it simple enough to practice every day. Write that on a pice of paper (I love Post-It notes!) and put it next to what you want to leave behind. Practice replacing the old with the new.
Every day we are ending and beginning. And every day the temptation to ignore the promptings of our spirit-self pulls at us.
Interesting, isn’t it, how easy it is to get distracted!