2 Samuel 23:1-5

Revelation 1:4b-8

In 1925, the same year that Mussolini came to power in Italy, Pope Pius XI felt the need to draw our priorities away from nationalism, back to a sovereignty that transcended what nations stood for. He instituted the Feast of Christ the King near the end of the liturgical year as a day to celebrate that we have no king but Christ.

Around the turn of the eras, people in Roman-controlled Judea waited and hoped to have no king but God’s anointed. They waited for the one who would inherit David’s line and fulfill the promise David had claimed again on his death bed, that his royal house would last forever, just as God’s prophets had promised.

A small group of people following a controversial teacher named Jesus identified him as that Anointed. They insisted that this subversive teacher, who had been executed by the Roman authorities, lived on in the community as the rightful heir of David’s throne. The image of Christ as king is an ancient theme in our understanding of what God’s incarnation means.

The church’s claim of Jesus’ eternal kingship was built on the basic claim about kingship. This is what David knew about, what kings back to Rameses knew about. The claim is that though any one king could only live so long, yet the kingship goes on through the heir: the king is dead, long live the king. Or, as the church would learn to say it, we worship the one who is, and was, and is to come. Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

David gave us something else beautiful in his exit speech. He identified God’s faithfulness in the rising sun, in the clearing after the rain. Just as the turn of the generations comes by God’s grace, so do these smaller restorations. That’s a vision of eternity, isn’t it? It’s a vision every bit as profound as Revelation’s vision of light without night. The Old Testament sees the cycle of sun and moon, light and darkness, even death and birth, as eternal. The changes in the world around us somehow draw our attention back to the constancy of God’s love. Perhaps the more things change, the easier it is to see how they are the same.

In 1621, Gov. William Bradford felt the need to draw people’s attention away from the hunger, hard work, illness, and uncertainty that had been their lives since they landed at Plymouth Rock. He wanted to draw their attention back to gratitude that God provides us with all we need. So he sent four hunters out to gather fowl and venison, and he put on a harvest festival (even if it wasn’t strictly a religious thanksgiving the way we imagine).

Today, the work is still hard, illness is still among us, and life is still uncertain. It’s uncertain for those of us on fixed incomes and those of us whose incomes have been all too variable of late. The season for budgeting and pledge-making has come here at church, and we have to admit that we can’t count on our income to keep up with our rising expenses. So lift up your eyes, and see Christ coming like the rising sun, shining all the brighter for the darkness around us.

See and give thanks for our blessings and for the blessing that is this church. Give thanks for this church where we choose to feed one another – and the college students and Billy Bell bakers we’ve invited – at our Thanksgiving meal tonight. Give thanks that we’ll be sharing Christmas blessings with Head Start children and their families in two weeks. Give thanks for the opportunity to give to world mission through PW, as we did last Sunday. For the short congregational meeting that will follow church, where we’ll elect new leaders to replace those who have rotated through their terms of service. Give thanks for this “turkey” we’re filling with donations to the food shelf, so we can share what we’re grateful for with others.

Count your blessings, and count the many ways we can share blessings, with and through this grace-filled community. I count them, with great thanks to God!