|12:00pm||Doors open for sightseeing|
|4:00pm||Last entry for sightseeing|
Sermon preached on the Feast of Christ the King (22 November 2015) by the Revd Canon Tricia Hillas, Pastor
What to make of the rule of God in a world of terrorist atrocities? Revd Tricia Hillas sees victories won by fear as short-lived.
Tunisia, Nigeria, Chad, the Philippines, Yemen, Cameroon, Pakistan, Turkey, Lebanon, the Ukraine, the United States, Denmark, Kenya, Afghanistan, Iraq, France, Mali…
A sorrowful litany … just some of the countries where atrocities carried out by terrorist groups and by individuals have taken place this year.
So, as we come to mark this feast of Christ the King…I can’t help but come wondering what to make of the claim of kingship, of the rule of God, in a world that is SO messed up.
Perhaps because of my own incredulity, the incredulity of a small Parisian boy caught my attention this week.
Beside the impromptu memorial outside the Bataclan theatre, scene of the deadliest attack in Paris last Friday, this little boy was asked if he understood why militants opened fire at a crowded concert. The video of the exchange between Angel Le and his young son has aired across the on-line world and has been translated as follows:
Reporter: Do you understand what happened? Do you understand why those people did that?
Son: Yes, because they are really, really mean. Bad guys are not very nice … and we have to be really careful because we have to change houses
Father: Oh no, don’t worry; we don’t need to move out. France is our home.
Son: But there’s bad guys daddy.
Father: Yes, but there are bad guys everywhere.
Son: They’ve got guns. They can shoot us because they’re really, really mean daddy.
Father: It’s ok, they might have guns, but we have flowers.
Son: But flowers don’t do anything. They’re for … they’re for … they’re for …
Father: Of course they do, look, everyone is putting flowers here. It’s to fight against the guns.
Boy: Is it for protection?
Son: And the candles, too?
Father: It’s to remember the people who are gone yesterday.
Son: Oh. The flowers and candles are here to protect us?
Reporter: Do you feel better now?
Son: Yes, I feel better.
It’s easy for adults, as well as children, to assume that power lies in violence and yet this week what’s caught the imagination of many has been the far deeper and eternal power of compassion, dignity and courage expressed in those flowers and candles and words.
Words such as those of another French father, whose wife Helen was killed in Paris just over a week ago.
Despite Helen’s death, her husband, Antoine, declared that he and their 17-month-old son would not live in fear or hatred. He wrote “You will not have my hatred …
You want it, but to respond to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
“You would like me to be scared, for me to look at my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, for me to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You have lost.”
Recalling the pain of seeing his wife’s body, Antoine addressed the terrorists, “I grant you this small victory, but it will be short-lived.
“I know she will be with us every day and we will find each other in heaven with free souls which you will never have.
“Us two, my son and I, we will be stronger than every army in the world. I cannot waste any more time on you as I must go back to [my son] who has just woken from his sleep.
“He is only 17 months old, he is going to eat his snack just like every other day, then we are going to play like every other day and all his life this little boy will be happy and free”.
Around 2,000 years ago, just before he was cruelly killed Jesus stood before the man who seemed to have all the cards in his hands…Pilate the Roman Governor thinking that since he had the power to put Jesus to death, he held all power over the itinerant preacher from Nazareth. So Pilate was incredulous at his words and his silence, why didn’t he beg, why didn’t he submit?
How little he understood. Through his words…and his silence… Jesus declared that his power did not draw its potency from the same limited root source as Pilate's own,
My kingdom is not from this world said Jesus – and thank God because what we need to transform our world is something far bigger, far more creative, more revolutionary, more powerful.
All the kingdoms in the world, which rely on fear and atrocity – will find that their victories are short lived before the kingdom which operates according to different dimensions altogether. A divine kingdom which has everything to do with transforming and renewing the world, one heart, one injustice, one sorrow-filled circumstance at a time.
Whose king is present amidst the blood, the anguish, the flowers and the candles and in the compassion and courage which IS yet to be found on the streets of Paris, Beirut and Bamako.
‘Thy kingdom come on earth’ Jesus taught his followers to pray…’
and this week may we add ‘and O God begin in and through me’
Closing prayer and the Grace:
Lord Jesus Christ,
Crowned with thorns yet crowned with glory,
Lifted up on a cross yet exalted on high,
sealed in a tomb yet triumphant over death,
Remind us again of your transforming power and renewing love;
The way you bring victory out of defeat,
Joy out of sorrow
And hope out of despair.
Teach us once more that you are able to change our lives and our world,
Use us, as you bring light into the darkness and wholeness to brokenness.
May your kingdom come in and through us.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen.