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Sermon Preached at The Church of the Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia Sunday November 24th The Reverend

lan Neale !"onarchy Rules# I think that this day in the churchs calendar is a day of sweet irony it is officially Christ the King Sunday. And so Americans (a few by choice, most by birth ha!e to sit and en"oy at best, feign at worst, a##reciation as readings and #rayers and hymns all celebrate the conce#t of monarchy$ %Crown him with many crowns&. 'he following is written in the history of St. (eorges )#isco#al Church, *lushing, +ong Island, %Among the treasures of the #arish is a -rayer .ook donated by /ebecca 0orrell +ittle 1eck 2332. It bears marks of long use and has certain e!idence of ha!ing been on the desk and in use before and after it was treason to #ray for 4ur most gracious So!ereign +ord King (eorge. A #a#er on which is written the -rayer for 'hy ser!ant the -resident of the 5nited States is #asted o!er the #rayer for the king. 'his must ha!e been done after 2367 as *lushing was in #ossession of the .ritish troo#s during the /e!olution and those who read the ser!ice had to gi!e good heed as to which #rayer they used in those days&. And I belie!e Christ Church, -hiladel#hia has a -rayer .ook in which King (eorge III has been scratched out in a !igorous and definiti!e manner8 )!en in land of monarchy the most ardent acce#t the nature of a constitutional monarchy that seems to e9ist solely by the blessed absence of no contrary action and awkward inter!ention. 'oday we focus on the Kingshi# of Christ and this makes our Christmas celebration all the more #rofound, the miracle of the Christ:Child all the more astounding. Christ the King$ Christ the .aby; Christs glorious kingdom marked by order and elegance$ Christs crib in smelly stable marked by messiness. 'oday calls us to confront the Kingshi# of Christ and this should be a #ersonal challenge8 I!e "ust started to read the <alna no!els written by 0a=o de la /oche (one of the most #o#ular series of books of her time . She writes of -hili# >hiteoak %he had a comfortable belief in (od a not too #ersonal (od with ?os eye always on your misdeeds but ready to gi!e you a hand in time of trouble and waiting at the last with magnanimous forgi!eness of your sins if they had not been too heinous&888 @@@

'oday calls us to confront the tension between #ower and authority, to recogni=e that often sadly and wretchedly not e!eryone who e9ercises #ower has real authority so to do. 'odays readings from ?oly Scri#ture, our #rayer for today, teach us, remind us that #ower backed by, confirmed by authority is marked by two !ital and fundamental characteristics. +isten to our Collect$ %grant that the #eo#les of the earth, di!ided and ensla!ed by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule&. -ower e9ercised with authority brings freedom and liberty; #ower e9ercised with authority brings integration and wholeness. 'he false she#herds in <eremiah A7 ha!e caused the #eo#le to be scattered and harmed; the true she#herds ha!e %gathered the remnant of the flock& and ha!e %freed the shee# from fear and dismay&. In Colossians -aul writes of the cosmic Christ, +ord of the Kingdom, who %holds all things together& and who %has rescued us from the #ower of darkness&. And in +uke, the #enitent thief recogni=es <esus as the +ord of the Kingdom and King <esus #romises the thief restoration and freedom. %'oday, because of today, you will be with me in -aradise&. If you, if I, want to discern whether #ower has authority then consider its goals, its work, its achie!ements; fragmented disintegration and re#ressi!e bondage bad; functional wholeness and liberating freedom good. Again from the <alna no!els, 0s. /oche writes of )smond Court %he had a talent for bringing out the li!eliness of others&. >hat a gift8 >hat a talent8 And this should be the mark of authentic #ower8 In families, #arents may e9ercise #ower but in ways that are abusi!e, destructi!e and mani#ulati!e #ower yes, but not e9ercised with authority. In nations, #olitical leaders may e9ercise #ower but in ways that neglect human rights and care little for social reform #ower yes, but not e9ercised with authority. And e!en in the church both clergy and laity ha!e sometimes e9ercised #ower to inhibit freedom and to denigrate humanity no wonder I hear so often, as I heard most recently yesterday, %it is institutional religion that has caused me to wander from the church& too much #ower, too little authority.

4ur e9ercise of #ower in whate!er #ublic, familial arena must be tem#ered with authentic di!ine authority it must lead towards liberating freedom (letting #eo#le go and also towards creati!e wholeness. 4ur +ord <esus e9ercises #ower (if we let him, that is with authority no wonder we can shout with confidence and "oy, %+ong +i!e the King, +ong +i!e the King$ Bi!at, !i!at /e9&.