Preacher: Julia Baker-Swann
Scripture: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 & John 18:33-37
We are here on a threshold Sunday.
We stand at the very edge of Ordinary Time looking into Advent.
We prepare for a time of expectation,
there are the literal preparations like the beautiful greens and decorations you are hanging,
I feel curious how this day,
Christ the King Sunday, invites us to inner preparations
calling us to remember what/who is Center of our Lives,
what the qualities of this Center are,
and to bask in the wonder of who is Jesus
as a radically different type of King.
We just heard read the famous exchange between Jesus and Pilate.
Pilate questions Jesus as he tries to piece together the situation
that has just been handed to him as Judean Governor.
“Are you the King of the Jews?” and “So you are a King?”
Jesus’s responds to these queries with very poetic indirect answers,
“My kingdom is not of this world”
and “I came into the world to testify to the truth…
everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
I wonder, why does Jesus answer in this very Zen way?
As I sat with and explored this question I felt impressed with Jesus all over again.
In my explorations…
I was reminded of the writer Charles Eisenstein who muses
about the narratives we live out of, usually unconsciously.
He names that most of the world operates from
a Story of Separation
while underneath and beyond that story
there is a more profound one that we are invited to live from:
A Story of Interconnection
A story where there is true connection
of every dimension and form with everything else.
(These last two years of COVID we all have felt in a very tangible ways our
interconnection across the world.)
It is very clear Jesus not going to “bite” into the Story of Separation that Pilate,
the Scribes and Pharisees, and Sanhedrim who want Jesus dead, are operating from.
Jesus is not going to engage the power-plays and violence.
He is not interested in it. He is not going to get hooked
into cancel culture,
right or left,
red or blue
vax or non-vax
any narrative of dualities
He is not even contrasting a heavenly invisible kingdom
with the power politics of earthly nations.
Jesus is stepping outside of it all together.
He is illuminating two ways of being that have totally different operating systems. The world operates on the basis of deadly force,
and Jesus is not going to step into that river.
What he is doing, by his very answer-non-answers
is embodying, incarnating, modeling the river he does swim in.
The river we are all invited into.
The River of Interconnection, of Relational Love.
In her exquisite book Braiding Sweetgrass,
Robin Wall Kimmerer, mother, ethnobotanist, professor
and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Band
describes the Potawatomi language as holding a grammar of animacy.
animacy, the opposite of inanimate.
In English the apple sitting on my desk is an it—what is it?
In Potawatomi the apple is who—who is this being?
‘We use the same words to address the living world as we use for our family.’
The living world is extended far beyond our English notion of alive,
not only are humans, plants, animals and trees filled with life
but so are mountains, boulders, winds, fire, songs and rhythms.
Language matters for how we see and interact with the world,
when we address our living world as “it”
it is easier to objectify and destroy, to have dominion, power over,
to live to the drum beat of separation.
Robin Wall Kimmerer posits a changing of our language and adopting the beautiful Anishinaabe word for beings of the living Earth.
“Ki” for it. So that when we speak of Sugar Maple we say
“Oh that beautiful tree, ki is giving us sap again this spring.”
And for the plural for “Ki” … “Kin”
So we can now refer to birds and trees not as things, but as our earthly relatives. On a crisp October morning we can look up at the geese and say, “Look, kin are flying south for the winter. Come back soon.”
From Kimmerer’s invitation I am reminded of the word-play Kin-dom
in conversation with Kingdom.
I sense the third-way that Jesus is embodying in his answers to Pilate is of the same Spirit that Kimmerer is embodying in this language expansion.
I must admit that I am often blocked by Kingship language.
It drips with old paradigm views of power and patriarchy.
To say Kin-dom for me is a space opener.
For me the “Kingdom that is not of this world” looks like what I imagine a Kin-dom to be.
It looks like the Story of Interconnection, where each living one “ki/kin” is honored in the fabric of union.
It looks like what we hear in 2nd Samuel,
“one who rules the people justly, is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleanings from the rain on grassy land.”
and it looks like the thousands of consciousness awakening, creativity-driven,
system-shaking acts we see today:
it looks like climate activists creating art out of plastic to give voice to the filled oceans.
it looks like people gathering their voices, prayers and actions to stop the state execution of Julius Jones.
it looks like 13-year old Abraham, a cancer survivor, who used his wish for “Make-A-Wish” Foundation to feed the homeless in his community.
it looks like the many of us around the world who at the same time gazed towards the heavens in wonder at the Blood Moon Eclipse.
it looks like each of us and all the invisible threads of radical ordinary kindness that knit our lives together daily.
It looks like the Story of Jesus Christ where we experience the
“particular of the human” and the “universal of the Love of God” come together as a unity which summons each of us, each ki/kin towards life.
This is a story like no other in human history,
it IS other,
it is a Mystery that humans would not create
given our inclination towards either
Zeus-like figures or a materialist view of the universe.
At the end of the Church year as we move into Advent, Christmas and the New Year
we are invited to ground ourselves into this Story.
as we look to the future with longing,
towards the fulfillment of what Christians pray every day:
“Your Kin-dom come.”
When you say those words
what does that prayer of longing look like for you in this here/not yet?
What Story of Interconnection Way are you are being invited to embody now?
How do you already?
How can you answer Pilate/the worlds asks of you differently from a third-way, Kin-dom river flow?
The Kin-dom is unlike the authoritative top-down systems,
the scarcity, fear-based mentalities rampant in the world.
The Kin-dom of God is embodied
by the things we see in the Story of Jesus the Christ, the Alpha the Omega,
where abundance and interconnections are the telltale mark of Christ’s Presence.
There, we see LOVE embodied.
It is GOOD NEWS.