First Congregational Church UCC
220 West Lyon Avenue
Lake City, Minnesota 55041
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Good Morning!  

Jesus Is King!  
We sing it.

We proclaim it.

But Jesus never said it.

What does it mean that Jesus is our king?

I have a tale that answers that.

-Pastor David

Our king left his throne.
He gave us an example to serve sacrificially and humbly.  
Now we give ourselves to him.

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First Congregational Church UCC
114 North Oak Street
Lake City, MN  55041
Here Is Today's Message

"Christ Is Our King His Way Only"
A message from
Rev. David S. Badgley

 November 20, 2022

     Are you ready for the new year?  It begins next Sunday.  Perhaps you didn’t know that. 
     We folks in the Christian church order our year around the life of Jesus.
     We begin the year with a four-week countdown to Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  That countdown is called Advent and it begins next Sunday. 
     Next week is New Year’s Day for the church.
     That means this Sunday is the end of the year, and we have a way to celebrate it, too. 
     Today is Christ The King Sunday.
     Today we proclaim Jesus is our king.  And in just a few weeks we will be celebrating the birth of our king. 
     But wait a minute.  Jesus never called himself a king.  Jesus said, "The greatest among you must be servant of all." (Matthew 23:11)  Jesus said the kingdom of God is a realm of justice, peace, compassion, forgiveness, service and humility.  Yet, Jesus didn’t claim it was his own kingdom. In fact, Jesus resisted the idea of being king.
     Listen to the response of Jesus to Pontius Pilate who ruled for Rome and who ordered Jesus to be crucified. 
     The book of John tells us,
     Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” 
John 18:33-38 (NRSV)
     It was only after people got a view of the whole life of Jesus, with his teachings, his sacrifice, his death on the cross, and his resurrection when they proclaimed him king, not with an earthly rule, but with a spiritual rule. 
     Jesus had and still has the power to change lives, to re-order relationships and culture, and to reveal God’s kingdom of love.  That is what makes him our king.
     I have a story to tell you on this Christ The King Sunday.  You will hear echoes of the life and teachings of Jesus, and how he is our king.
     This tale is told in a book by William R. White, (Stories For The Journey, A Sourcebook for Christian Storytellers) adapted from a story by James Carroll.  It is called “The Tinker King.”
     There once was a king who disliked the ceremony and trappings of his office.
     He reluctantly wore a crown and was uncomfortable when forced to sit on the throne.
     It began the day of his coronation when they brought him a magnificent ermine robe.
     “Where did this robe come from?” asked the young king.
     The courtier replied, “It came from the royal merchant.”
     “Where did the robe come from?” the king repeated.
     “It came from Persia,” the baffled courtier replied.
     “Where did this robe come from?” the king persisted.
     Finally, the courtier blurted, “Majesty, this robe comes from the skins of small animals whom the hunters trap!”
     Sadly, the king touched the robe and said, “How can I wear such cruelty for a robe?”
     Another time a prince brought a pearl of immense value to the king as a gift. “Receive this pearl as a sign of my homage,” he said to the king.
     “Why is this pearl so valuable?” the young king asked.
     “Because of its perfect, moonlike shape,” replied the prince.
     But the king persisted until the flustered prince confessed, “This pearl is valuable because 16 male slaves drowned while trying to retrieve it from the ocean floor.”
     Sadly, the king refused the gift saying, “How can I wear such cruelty for a jewel?”
     Though he disliked all the trappings of his office, he replaced them only with confusion. He canceled the royal Christmas feast when he discovered that the food was taken as a tax from the peasants, but he could not think of another way to celebrate.
     He took no steps to change the customs of the kingdom but was only saddened by them. People said he was too sensitive and gentle to be a king, and he agreed.  
     One day, he simply walked away from the palace and never returned.
     Quickly a cohort of cruel knights replaced the gentle king.
     The knights increased the taxes and reveled in the splendor of royalty. As taxes rose, service deteriorated. Roads and bridges were no longer repaired and sanitary conditions grew worse.
     Meanwhile, the gentle king became a tinker and traveled about the country sharpening knives and fixing pots.
     Most of the tinker's work was done in the kitchens of the peasants. They loved the little man who listened with his eyes and asked questions with his heart. The tinker and the people learned from each other.
     He learned that the people were unhappy.  He learned that the taxes of the knights created a terrible burden and their inept rule made life difficult.
     The people learned from the tinker that everything is connected to everything else and that whenever anything dies a little, we all die a lot.
     What the people did not learn from the tinker was the nature of his true identity. Although he looked like the former king, no one was certain.  Why would a king be working as a tinker?  Often people asked him, “Are you a king?” He normally responded by asking them a question, “Do I look like a king?”
     One day the tinker was sharpening kitchen knives under a tree at the home of a family whose won had died in the fields while working long hours, trying to earn the monthly tribute tax.
     When a crowd gathered to talk, the tinker asked the father a question, “Who did this to your son?”
     “The heat did it; the heat killed my son,” the man replied sadly.
     The tinker pressed him until the man cried out, “The knights did this. The cruel knights killed my boy!”
     People quickly quieted the father telling him that such talk was dangerous.  “The truth is always dangerous,” the tinker said gently.
     “What are we to do?” the boy’s father pleaded.  But the tinker did not reply.  “You see connections,” the father cried.  “You make us see connections with your questions.  Now that we see, what are we to do?”
     Looking up from the knife he was sharpening on his wheel, the tinker said quietly, “The knights have not always ruled this kingdom. One day they will be removed.”
     “How can we fight men with great swords,” a woman in the crowd cried, “when all we have are farming tools?”
     The tinker stood and faced the crowd. He spoke with a voice that was powerful and clear, “When the time comes, you will not use swords. All that will be needed will be stout poles. Begin now to collect them.”
     “Before we collect our poles,” a voice shouted, “answer one question.  Are you the king?”
     This time the tinker did not even respond with another question.  He simply waved his hand for the people to disperse, and they left.
     A few days later the tinker stopped by the side of the road near the royal palace to work on his cart.  Hearing hoofbeats, he looked up to see a knight riding a giant stallion directly at him.  He pulled up and stopped.
     “What are you doing, you old fool?” the knight bellowed.
     “I don’t believe we have met,” the tinker replied.
     “I am one of the ruling knights,” the man on horseback shouted, giving the tinker a kick that sent him rolling in the dirt.  They spying the whet wheel on the cart he asked, “Are you a tinker?”
     “I am,” the old man said, picking himself up.
      “Then you are coming with me,” the knight said triumphantly.
     He tied a rope around the tinker and nearly dragged him into the royal courtyard. The knight dismounted and then yelled for all to hear.  “Brothers, noble knights.  I have brought a tinker to sharpen our weapons.  Bring your swords and axes and the tinker will put fine edges on all our steel.”
     For three long days the tinker sat hunched over his wheel sharpening the weapons of the cruel rulers.
     Every blade in the palace was placed against the tinker's wheel. When he finished, the swords were so sharp they could cut fine paper. The big knight pushed the tinker out through the city gates and jeered, “We have spared your life so that you can sharpen our weapons another day.”
     Quickly the tinker moved across the plain and up to a nearby village. He called the people together with a shout.  No longer did he speak in questions. This time he gave directions. “The time has come. Gather at dawn tomorrow on the plain outside the palace. Bring your stout poles.”
     Before the sun rose, all the people of the kingdom assembled near the castle where the cruel knights lived.  Each carried a stout pole or a farming tool. In front of them, standing on his old cart, was the tinker.
     When the great wooden doors of the castle opened, the crowd of mounted knights appeared.
     Their swords and armor glistening in the morning sunlight. As they began to move, fear seized the crowd.
     “Stand tall, my people,” cried the tinker.
     “But we are about to die!” they shouted.
     “No,” the tinker insisted, “you are about to live. Do not strike these men, these cruel knights. They are your poorest sons. Only stop their swords with your sticks.”
     No one understood what the tinker meant, but trusting him, they stood firm, with their poles held high above their heads.
     The knights roared with laughter at the sight of the peasants facing them with mere wood. The first knight went straight for the tinker and swung his sword as if to cut through the branch and kill him. As his sword slashed into the thin wood, instantly, remarkably, the metal withered and collapsed. The tinker, in sharpening the knights’ weapons to such fine edges had ground away their substance on his wheel. The swords were sharp to eye and soft to the touch, but when they met the wood, they withered like tissue.
     One by one the knights were disarmed. Without a single death, without a single injury, the battle was over.
     All the people gathered around the old cart and cheered the tinker.  One of the older citizens spoke for them all, “Once and for all answer the question we have all asked: are you a king?”
     The tinker stepped forward and said with a voice that was strong and clear, “I am.”
     Immediately the crowd broke forth shouting, “Crown the tinker! Crown the tinker!”
     Holding up his hands for quiet, the tinker said, “I am not a king who will rule over you. I have come not to be served, but to serve.  I have come to help you see that everything is connected to everything else.  I urge you to choose leaders who love justice and who live humbly and simply. Remember, the greatest among you must be servant of all.”
     And then he simply slipped away and let them begin a new life without him.
     In the years ahead, the little kingdom established a government that was just and fair.
     When people told stories to their children about the early days they said their way of life had been shaped by the man who was called “The Tinker King.” 

     -Pastor David
Click here for previous Sunday Morning Reflections
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