Sunday, November 23, 2008

What is This Kingdom Thing?

Fr. Dunbar gave us today's sermon. He did a good job, focusing on "the Kingdom." To me this was something the followers of Jesus just couldn't really understand during the time He was with them, in spite of all the questions presented to Him, and in spite of the parables He gave them. The Kingdom of the Lord was so unlike anything they expected, that I suspect It is still something that we also cannot put into words.

Today's readings of the separation of the sheep into those which will be saved and those that will be given over to Satan's fires were not directly addressed in the sermon. No one wants to hear about that aspect, the "other kingdom."

After the sermon, was anyone else more acutely aware (with their Sunday ears) of how many times the word "Kingdom" came up in the liturgy? And did anyone else pause and reflect upon the crowns in the lower left and lower right sides of the Epiphany window?
(I need a better picture, this one was from the ECOOS photo gallery)

The juxtaposition of the crown of thorns and the regal crown are a fitting way to think about the Kingdom, if you ask me, which you didn't.


  1. Re: "Today's readings of the separation of the sheep into those which will be saved and those that will be given over to Satan's fires were not directly addressed in the sermon."

    Hmmm, I seem to recall you noting that last week the sermon was "unable to come to grips with the closed door of the parable of the unwise bridesmaids, or the casting out of the worthless slave".

    I, personally, would like to believe there is some way that all get to heaven in the end. But I don't want to hold a theology in contradiction with Christ's words in the Bible.

    C. S. Lewis shows us that, when we really think it through, we have to reject universalism.

  2. Overall Fr. Dunbar scored some good points when he went after the political action wing of the Church.

    We do seem to have a problem in talking about Satan and H***, at least in the traditional sense.

    I recall a parishioner who left several years ago because the rector (was it Blaney Pridgen?) said that he did not believe in a literal devil or something to that effect.

    I think this is a job for a T-shirt printer to come up with a "Hell, Don't go there." logo.

    Or maybe this.

  3. See how Fr. Dan weaves the "judgement" readings into his sermon for Christ the King Sunday.

  4. Although I must admit my favorite line in yesterday's sermon was "taxation is a form of extortion", that is not particularly relevant to this posting.

    I am intrigued by Father Dunbar's thoughts on the Kingdom because, throughout the Prophets and in the Book of Revelation, the Messiah is always depicted on a throne, like a judge. This is how Jesus will come at the end of the world, to judge the living and the dead, the Last Judgment being a truth spelled out in the very earliest credal statements of the Church and a dogma of faith defined by Benedict XII in "Benedictus Deus" (29th January 1336).

    All of the things listed in the Gospel passage (giving people food and drink, clothing them, visiting them) become works of Christian charity when the person doing them sees Christ in these "least" of His brethren. And we can see the seriousness of sins of omission. Failure to do something which one should do means leaving Christ unattended. For example, failure to protect those in our society least able to protect themselves is a sin of monstrous proportion.

    This does not mean, however, that Christianity should be reduced to some kind of agency for "doing good", a school for social work. Service of our neighbor acquires supernatural value when it is done out of love of Christ, when we see Christ in the person in need. This is why Paul asserts that "...if I give away all I have...but have not love, I gain nothing (I Cor. 13:3). Any interpretation on Jesus' teaching on the Last Judgment would be wide of the mark if it gave it a materialistic meaning or confused mere eleemosynary activities with genuine Christian charity.

    The eternal punishment of the reprobate and the eternal reward of the elect are dogmas of faith defined by Church councils going back to the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Thy kingdom come...indeed.

  5. Cato's word for today: "eleemosynary."

    I had to look it up at Webster's.

    "Etymology: Medieval Latin eleemosynarius, from Late Latin eleemosyna alms
    Date: circa 1616
    : of, relating to, or supported by charity"