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Pentecost 27 The Feast of Christ the King 10:30 a.m. Liturgy with Wedding November 20, 2016 - The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
Holy Eucharist and Wedding
Micah 4:1-4; Psalm 67; Colossians 1:11-20; John 15:9-17
Christ Episcopal Church
Tacoma, Washington
Sunday, November 20, 2016
The Rev. Canon Janet Campbell
10:30 a.m. Liturgy
The Feast of Christ the King
and the wedding of two women we love.
A glorious day
                   a joyous occasion.
Just what we need
to lift our hearts
in these post-election days of
uncertainty and anxiety . . .
just what we need
to remind us
that God’s love in Christ
is still sovereign in this world
and still at work in this world
          in us and in countless others . . .
a love that
no hate speech,
no closed mindedness,
no bigotry,
no darkness,
          can overcome.
This day is
just what we need
to remind us
that we stand
on the firm ground that is Jesus the Christ,
not on the shifting sands
                    of an election result.
In Jesus Christ
there is a new creation –
he called it the kingdom of God –
a kingdom not as the world knows kingdoms,
          governed by the privileged and powerful
                   for the privileged and powerful,
but an organic body
          knit together in
                   self-offering, reconciling love.
A way of life
inaugurated by Jesus,
who, in his own earthly life,
was the Kingdom of God among us.                                 [Luke 17.21]

“In him
all the fullness of God
          was pleased to dwell,”
says Paul,
“and through him
          God was pleased to reconcile to God’s self
          all things . . .
by making peace by the blood of his cross.”
In the words and actions of Jesus
          we have encountered
                    God’s welcome,
                    God’s love,
                    God’s generosity,
                    God’s forgiveness,
                    God’s mercy,
                    God’s justice,
                    God’s peace . . .
                             for all.
image of the invisible God:
friend of the powerless and outsider,
companion of the poor and rejected,
troubler of the mighty and magnificent,
pouring out his life on the cross,
          rising, King of glory at God’s right hand.

From Jesus’ time until this very moment,
God’s Kingdom is breaking into the world --
not yet fully realized,
but already manifest
          in countless acts of resistance and courage,
                   countless acts of reconciling and self-offering love.
Every Sunday
in this household of faith
we proclaim and enact
          that kingdom,
we practice its ways.
all who come are welcome,
God’s just Word is spoken,
fervent Prayer for all the world’s needs
          is lifted to the maker and lover of souls.
God’s Peace is exchanged
          with all genuineness of heart,
God’s Table of Generosity and Healing
          is laden with the Holy Food that is Christ himself,
                   given to be equally shared by all . . .

Week after week,
Sunday by Sunday,
we become what we practice,
so that when we leave here
          we are like seeds of the kingdom
                   scattered across the fertile ground
                             of our struggling world.
          By our baptism,
                   we have been appointed
          to go and bear fruit,
                             fruit that will last.
Into this place today
come two women who love each other,
Elaine and Shelby, 
to give themselves in hope
to one another
          in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony . . .
in which they promise
to be to each other
God’s welcome,
God’s love,
God’s generosity
          and forgiveness,
                             and justice,
          God’s peace.

Their household will be the place
          they practice this way of life,
a portal for God’s kingdom
          coming into the world . . .
In the routine everydayness,
the adventures great and small,
the delights and disappointments,
the inevitable challenges
          of married life,
they will day by day
become what they practice,
growing together into
a sign of the presence of God’s love,
and discovering together
how their love
will bear fruit in the world.
Their life together,
in its working out,
will be a sign of the struggle of the kingdom
to manifest itself in our lives . . .
how the difficulties, challenges,
are lived, transcended, or not . . .
and how the partners are transformed
by the marriage of their differences, or not . . .

Those of us at yesterday’s rehearsal
saw Elaine and Shelby
working out in love and respect
a small difference having to do with today:
what time to leave their home
at Franke Tobey Jones this morning –
There was a difference of about
15 minutes in their opinions –
It developed,
as they debated,
that what time they would leave
would depend on who was driving . . .
because apparently
the one who was lobbying for later
has a lead foot.
(I’m not sayin’.)
I do not know who drove,
but here they are,
they made it in time!

Because they are two persons
          of the same sex
                   who are now allowed to marry,
Elaine and Shelby
are for us and for the world
a sign of the power of God’s love
to conquer
          ignorance, fear, bigotry,
the power of God’s love
to transform a culture, a government,
          even the church!
The transformation
couldn’t have happened
many acts of courage and resistance,
many acts of reconciling and self-offering love,
and it took way too long a time . . .
but it has happened.

We meet today
to welcome Elaine and Shelby
          among us as a married couple,
to give thanks
          for their hope and trust in God
          as they embark on their new life together
and to ask God’s blessing
on them
and the little kingdom of their home.
May they sit under their own vines
and under their own fig trees,
may no one make them afraid.
And may they bear fruit,
fruit that will last.
And we meet today
to proclaim the reign of Christ the King
in the face of the anger, racism, and hatred
          exposed by the presidential campaign
                   and its aftermath:
the ugliness and division revealed in our country
that fills us with anguish and concern
for our country,
for our families, neighbors, and friends,
for African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos,
for immigrants,
for gays, lesbians, transgender and bi-sexual people,
for Muslims and Jews,
for women . . . and girls . . .
for our children and youth,        
          what they see and what they hear  . . .
the ugliness and divison
that should fill us with anguish and concern
for those who would deny God’s love for all.
We come to this place for comfort
and encouragement in difficult times,
and we come also for strength,
and to practice, practice, practice
the kingdom.
So that we may go out
from this place to
practice the kingdom,
proclaim the kingdom,
enact the kingdom
in the world,
          with acts of
          courage and hope,
          daring and faith,
          and above all,
                   reconciling love
                   and the joy that is ours
                             in the one who said
                             to his disciples
                             at supper
                             on the night before he died,

“As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you; abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments,
          you will abide in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
          and abide in his love. 
I have said these things to you
so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete.”
God’s desire is
to bring together all God’s creation
in completeness of love and of joy . . .
and we meet today
to celebrate the determination and power
of God
to bring it about in and through us.
the Gospel of love being our guide,
and Christ our only King.
Last night,
after the rehearsal,
we gathered at a table
hosted by Elaine and Shelby.
Thirteen people, we were,
as different from one another
as we could be . . .
from different parts of our country,
some conservative and some liberal no doubt,
gay, straight, single, married.

Across our differences,
we were united
by the love of Elaine and Shelby
and then by points of contact
we found we shared . . .
and so a lover of dogs
found herself sitting across
from a retired veterinarian,
and dog stories were exchanged.
And lively conversations
were going on all around the table
as we were discovering in one another
unique qualities
that made us interesting,
 and fun to know.
We may not have realized then
that this was what was happening,
but looking back on last evening,
I see the in-breaking of God’s Kingdom
right there in the Lobster Shop on Ruston Way.
For we were celebrating
a kind of Eucharist,
a thanksgiving in love for love,
at God’s Kingdom table,
and Christ’s joy was in us,
and our joy was complete.