A Different Kind of King: An Intergenerational Sermon

Philippians 2:5-11

Do you ever dream at night?  What do you dream about?

Recently I had a dream.   In my dream, I had a study in the basement of a seminary – a place where ministers go to school.  It was a large study, as big as one of the classrooms at West Villages and almost the size of our fellowship hall – where we go after church to get snacks and talk with friends.  But the study didn’t have any doors and as I sat at my desk, people walked in and out of my study, unannounced and often just passing through – some seeking my counsel and others paying no attention to me.  They were all kinds of people – professors, ministers, students, carpenters, plumbers, nurses, children, and elders.

When I woke up, I wondered about this study without doors – a study that was open to the everyone.  What could it mean?

What do you think it meant?

I think the dream was about my life – you see my whole life has been about open doors – open doors between higher education and the church, open doors between study and action, open doors between people of all types, open doors between the church and the world.

I think this dream was about a church with open doors, a church that is on the beach, in the woods, in the sanctuary right here; a church that is portable, that goes to the Hyannis Green, to the homeless, and to children in India, Syria, and on our nation’s borders.  A church open to all, welcoming all, and touching all of God’s children with love.

Today’s scripture is about being a king.  What’s a king like?  What do you think of when you think of being a king?

But, this is a different kind of king – the bible speaks of a king who becomes one of us, gives up power, has no walls of separation, and embraces everyone, establishing a kingdom with no outsiders.

This is a different kind of king, isn’t it?

When the apostle Paul wrote these words to Christians in Philippi, in today’s Macedonia, people usually thought of only one kind of king – Caesar….Caesar had the Roman legion, ruled with violence and great power, and punished anyone who opposed him….for Caesar might made right…he was a little like Valdemort or Thor’s evil brother on the Avengers.

Paul spoke of a king who ruled by love and when people bowed down to this king – and everyone bowed down and was welcome – it was because of love and not fear.

Our visions of God reflect our values, what we think is important, or our values reflect our vision of God.  Paul tells us to have the mind of Christ– to be like Jesus, who rules by love, welcome, and forgiveness, not hate and fear.  Paul knows we need police forces and armies, but even here their job is to keep the peace, protect the vulnerable, and care for the lost…their main job is to protect and not destroy.

Be like Jesus, Paul says – a few weeks ago, I quoted in the words of one of our bible study participants, who noted as we sat on the bench by the Thrift Niche – when the elder John in Ephesus, perhaps the author of I, II, and III John was asked what was the heart of the good news of Jesus, he said, “Children, love one another.”

That’s the mind of Christ, loving each other…welcoming, caring, forgiving…

Next week, Advent begins – and Advent means the coming of someone special, or waiting for someone to come. During this season of Advent, we wait for the coming of the baby Jesus and Christ the king – a baby born, like you, but in a humble manger, and a child who grew up to be a king, not like Caesar, but a king who played with children, healed sick people, loved strangers, and this King, the only king we can truly follow says, “I love you, you belong, you matter, and you – and everyone else – can do great things with your life.”  Be like Jesus, welcome and love, and oh what a life you’ll have.