Almost 99 percent of all species ever are now extinct. And according to some scientists, about half of the species now alive may be extinct by 2100. The human relationship with creation may or may not have significant impact on why this is so. We could theorize that our presence on earth has a cause and effect relationship on some species. Or we could say that the extinction of species, like dinosaurs was random. Did you know there is a general decrease in amphibians world-wide, the Golden toad, a rainforest creature, was last seen in 1989. I think I told you that I rescued a snake from this very floor a couple of weeks ago, “Save the snakes,” we could form a ministry around this. Is extinction, the cessation of species , a part of God’s plan for the earth?
Today is Christ the King Sunday! Some people don’t like the suggestion that Christian’s live under a monarchy, that using the term king for God is not helpful, but Christ is not similar in any way to any form of democratic government, God is not up for re-election every four years, God does not rule under a system of checks and balances. And there is no similarity under the current democracy, where the result of the work being done by the government is increasing division rather than unity.
God’s plan is to move from death to resurrection. God can be trusted completely, to take us beyond where we have experienced love, mercy and peace. Our vision for Christ the King is so limited, we see the things that are becoming extinct, including wondering if the church will be extinct, instead of seeing all that is coming alive in the world. Even though the church is in transition, we are at an important time in history, never before have there been so many people who don’t claim to practice any faith, and yet clearly, God has set this sanctuary in the middle of community, God who holds all things in unity. God is not domesticated by us, not managed or manipulated, Christ brings us to live outside ourselves, to go beyond where we have gone before, sounds like star trek, but really do you trust God to take you beyond where you have experienced love before? Anyone who has had a taste of the love of God knows this is a scary thing to accept, because when you get a taste of God’s love, you don’t stay the same, everything changes. Yes, your whole life changes, what you do, who you spend time with, how you spend money, where you go, God’s love moves you to places and people you have never been to before. God’s love moves us from death to resurrection.
Do you trust God to take you beyond where you have experienced mercy before? There is no mistake, no transgression large enough for God to turn his back on you, God suffers your sin. God takes it into himself so you can be whole. Are you ready to let go of the sin, are you ready to let go of the behavior, of anything that holds you back from living fully in the face of God’s mercy, not just once but everyday. Have you thought that God might call you to forgive another’s transgression so they can have fullness of life? Has God given you that gift, that opportunity to experience that kind of mercy? God’s mercy moves us from death to resurrection.
Do you trust God to take the church beyond any experience the church had in the 1950’s? Are you getting what I am driving at? We don’t want God to work for us, domesticated by us, we don’t need God to take us where we have already been, we can do that ourselves. Christ is King, Christ alone is righteous and his kingdom extends beyond our experience. The pattern of our faith, is death and resurrection, are you ready to follow that pattern? Are you willing to receive the resurrection here? Listen up my friends, this is important: The resurrection is going to happen whether you are willing or not.
In the early part of the gospel of Mark, Jesus is teaching and he goes home, it was impossible for them to even eat because of the crowds gathering, and his family go out to seize him and they say, “He is out of his mind.” The church should be dreaming for the day when we follow Christ so closely that we too, are accused of looking crazy.
Scott Harrison, a young affluent man who lived and worked in NYC in the 90’s living the kind of life he describes as having it all. He was a rep for alcoholic beverages, he was paid to drink, he went from bar to bar being served by others, he spent all of his time in nightclubs, and even his girlfriend was seen on billboards. He was up there in the ranks of those who live the NYC highlife. Eventually he found his outwardly successful life felt inwardly spiritually bankrupt. He started reading scripture. He decided to go do something worthy of serving others. When he first applied to work for a nonprofit, he was rejected by every one. His friends thought he was out of his mind. Finally one nonprofit told him that if he could pay them five hundred dollars a month, he could come on board their medical ship. They treated people in Africa who had facial tumors because of the poor quality water they drink. Scott Harrison is the man who began an organization called Charity water. Since 2006, they have funded 9, 458 water projects in 20 countries. He was willing to go beyond where his life experience had taken him.
A friend of mine lost her son to a brain cancer, he was 21. This coming week of Thanksgiving, her family is running a blood drive, to save the lives of other children dealing with the same illness. She is willing to go where her own life experience did not take her, she is going beyond to watch for relief in other families, because you know what, these other families, she will tell you that they are her family, too.
I don’t for a minute believe that extinction is God’s plan for humankind. I don’t believe for a minute that extinction is God’s plan for the church, I believe that resurrection is. Resurrection was not just something that happened to Jesus, my good friends, resurrection is the transformation of life in all its forms, in all its need, bringing it beyond our current experience. It is not what we ourselves do, it is what God does in us. God alone gives us life. God alone is making us one. God alone will bring us to unity. Here these words from the prophet Ezekiel, “God alone will put the sanctuary among them forever. “ Christ our King, is our God and we are blessed to be his people.