1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you,
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall laud your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
It is wonderful to be back with you. I have been on maternity leave for the last few weeks, and I want to say thank you for giving me that time to focus on being a mom, and helping our family adjust to our newest family member. And though I am so so thankful for that time, I also missed you and am so excited to be back with you today! This is Teddy…
It is so weird being a mom, and I love it so so much! I love watching them learn new things, and reading them stories. Some of my favorite memories from my childhood are being read different books by my parents. In fact, Zach likes to tease me about how many children’s books we have, and how we could open our own library, and how we shouldn’t get anymore children’s books because want our kids to have the experience of going to the library.
I used to love going to the library when I was a kind. There was this great children’s librarians named Pat, and she would always find me these great books. And one of my favorite ones that I remember reading over and over again while sitting on the ground between the shelves was this beautiful book with stories of King Arthur. There were places for children to sit and read books but I would be so excited about pulling it off the self and reading it, that I would sit down right there on the ground and read it. I’m not sure how I came across it the first time, I remember that book was on the bottom shelf, and you had to lean over to pull it out from among the many books- and so it must not have been something that I just happened to lay eyes on.
And the book was full of words, pages and pages of words in small print, with a picture every now and then- and the pictures were beautiful. I loved the stories of King Arthur- a man who was humble, noble and just. Lancelot and the Lady of the Lake, the Knights of the Round Table. How even though, Arthur could have ruled with an Iron fist, instead he humbled himself…and instead of having the people sit at a rectangle table-with him as the King-sitting at the place of importance and honor- he had them all sit at a roundtable- humbling himself and elevating others. He was open to hearing other’s opinions and wisdom. He was the opposite of everything bad kings were. Kings who ruled with anger, and narrow sidedness, who didn’t listen to other’s opinions. We’ve all head stories of “bad” kings.
A few years ago, a musical came out, perhaps you have heard of it, Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see it live in a theatre, perhaps you have seen it on Disney+ It is a musical that tells the story of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. And the majority of the cast is on stage for the entire musical but one of the actors is only on stage for about 9 minutes, but it is a role that people can’t stop talking about. King George the 3rd played by Johnathan Groff. And Johnathan Groff is hysterical in the role, and the role is very well written. And he mocks the colonies and their leadership and vows to win them back, and then after America has won their independence he adds rude commentary every now and then. But one of the funniest lines comes from before America has won their independence. The song is entitled, “You’ll Be Back,” and in it he vows to win back the colonies, and he sings, “Oceans rise, empires fall/We have seen each other through it all/ And when push comes to shove/ I will send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love.”
And it’s a line that gets a good laugh, because it’s funny. Love isn’t defined by power or abuse of power, it isn’t created or enriched by fully armed battalions because that doesn’t remind people of love. But the truth is, many Kings have behaved in such a way. They have been vindictive, thought only of themselves. They lived in big castles filled with gold while their people starve. They often are just focused on their wants. We even see this with many of the Kings we find in the Old Testament. And we as contemporary Americans don’t know what it is like to live under a King; of having the same leader all of our lives, a sovereign that we have no say or voice in. And so, some of this language like King and Kingdom might be hard for us to grasp or fully understand, but it is found throughout the Old and New Testament. G-d is called King throughout the Old Testament. In the Gospels, Jesus is named King from the time of his birth to the time of his death. When the Wisemen come looking for him, they ask Herod, “Where is the child that was born King of the Jews,” and over his head on the cross, a sign was posted saying, “This is the King of the Jews.” And we heard in the passage last week from Revelation when Derek preached, in heaven; Jesus is recognized as the King he is. But on earth, he chose a humble path.
In fact, when we think of a King, a King on this earth what are somethings we think of? We think of a big gold crown. And a big castle, and a large army who are ready to draw swords at his command. But when we think of Christ the King, we have the opposite. We don’t have a thorn, other than one made of thorns. Matthew 8:20 tells us that, “The Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” When Jesus was being arrested and his disciples drew their swords he told them to put them away, and that the one who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” How is this a King? A homeless man, who preached about turning the other check and putting away weapons. This is a question that many have grappled with throughout Christian history and theology. Many of us recently read an abridged version of the Bible entitled, The Story which is by Max Lucado. And Max Lucado, pointed out that Jesus’ paradox of a life forces us to make a choice. He writes, “When it comes to Christ, you’ve got to do the same. Call him crazy, or crown him a king. Dismiss him as a fraud, or declare him to be G-d. Walk away from him, or bow before him, but don’t play games with him.” -Max Lucado
Choosing to bow to Christ and call him King means to fall in love with a King and a Kingdom that goes against many things our society promotes. So he worth it? Is G-d and therefore Christ, really worth of our praise? Worth of being named G-d and King, of us blessing G-d every day and praising G-d’s name forever. Is G-d’s greatness unsearchable? Are we declaring his mighty acts and greatness, recognizing and meditating on the glorious splendor G-d’s majesty and wonderous works? Do we see G-d as gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, good to all and compassion over all he has made. Do we give thanks and speak of the glory of G-d’s everlasting Kingdom? As our Psalmist does and calls us to do as well? Sometimes I struggle to fully grasp that. And when I am I like to recall a parable about Christ that was written by Soren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher. It is entitled, The King and the Maiden.
“Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden.
The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden.
How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind. Would she be happy at his side? How could he know?
If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross over the gulf between them.
“For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal,” concluded Kierkegaard. The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosely about him. It was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on. He renounced the throne to win her hand.”
Brothers and sisters in the name of Christ our King, we are the maiden in this story. Jesus is King, and no I am not referencing the title of Kanye West’s recent album. But Christ is the King we are called to serve and live for and truth and love. And we can chose to be in love with him, and accept his hand and embrace being part of his Kingdom. But if we do that, and I mean really do that, we have to reevaluate our priorities and who we pledge allegiance to. This is the King we are called to serve. We can’t worship anything else. In our culture it’s easy to worship fame and wealth and celebrities. Our alliance is to be to Christ above everything else. Above work, above our political party, above president, above country, above money. That’s what it means to worship and follow and claim Christ is our King.
Many everything we do in our lives, live out and embody our Psalm. Many we live our lives devoted to the one true King, and work to bring his Kingdom on the earth. Amen.