Amy Martinell, Sioux Falls, SD

Warm-up Questions

  • Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do?  How did you feel?  How did you react?
  • What news have you heard lately that made you feel good?

Signs of the Kingdom

On Halloween night in the UK three children stopped to trick or treat at the house of Brenda Burdon, 86.  Brenda apologized because she did not have any treats ready to give out.  The youth replied, “It’s OK, because sometimes making people happy and getting a nice big smile is reward enough.”

They then decided they wanted to spread a little more happiness.  They returned the next day with muffins and chocolates they had purchased for her, along with a ten pound note and a card which they had decorated with pumpkins and doodles that read, ““Thank you for being so kind. Hope your life gets better as you go on… “  Brenda Burdon’s grandson visited her later that day and said that “She was just lost in happiness that total strangers could leave such a wonderful impression” and that it had been the best Halloween of her life.

Discussion Questions

  • What was the best Halloween of your life?
  • When have you experienced being “lost in happiness”?
  • When has a total stranger brought you joy?  When have you shared joy with a stranger?  What moved you to share kindness with the stranger?

Christ the King 

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

Revelation 1:4b-8

John 18:33-37

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

The kingdom of God is like…

Our reading today comes during Jesus’ last hours before his death.  Jesus has been handed over to the Pilate, the Roman governor, by Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest.  They tell Pilate Jesus is a criminal whom they want put to death, but Pilate is not sure of what Jesus may be guilty. (John 18.29-31)  So Pilate questions Jesus, asking if he is the “King of the Jews.” This is a political rather than religious charge. Pilate does not care about the religious infighting, but he does care if there is a new political ruler rising to challenge Roman rule.  In his typical fashion, Jesus does not provide a clear answer to Pilate’s question.

When asked if he is King of the Jews, Jesus replies, “My kingdom is not from this world.”  Jesus has a kingdom, but it is not here on earth.  The world has proved they are not ready for Jesus’ kingdom of serving the lowly, forgiving sins, and loving your enemies.  Because the world is not ready, Jesus is standing before Pilate facing death.  Yet, this is not the end of the story.  Jesus rose from the dead and promises to return with his kingdom.

Now it’s up to us, the followers of Christ, to wonder: What is this kingdom not of this world?  What does Jesus’ reign look like?  How do we welcome Jesus’ reign into our lives and our world?  We live in waiting, waiting for Christ to return and for Christ’s kingdom to come to earth.  But as we wait, we see glimpses of Christ’s kingdom right now.  When we follow Christ by loving and serving others, we bring God’s kingdom to others.

I have a friend who loves to share on her social media when she sees the kingdom of heaven break into our world.  She posts “the kingdom of heaven is like…” and then shares stories of places she has seen Jesus’ kingdom.  These stories include a competitive runner who helps an opponent rather than going for the win, farmers who come together to harvest their neighbors’ crops after tragedy, and a couple who spent their flight helping an anxious teenager cope with turbulence.

So, when it came time to pick a current event for this Faith Lens, I didn’t do what I usually do.  I didn’t look for a prominent news story that was on my mind.  Instead, I looked for a story that would give us a glimpse of a kingdom not of this world.  It took a bit longer to find this type of story, butI think this story of kids taking time out of their trick-or-treating to share some joy with a stranger gives us a great picture of what the kingdom of God looks like.

Discussion Questions

  • Pilate questions Jesus to get closer to the truth of his arrest.  Jesus proclaims “I came into the world to testify to the truth.”  Are Jesus and Pilate talking about the same kind of truth.  What truth does Jesus point to in your life?
  • What do you imagine Jesus’ kingdom is like?  Share a time when you experienced Jesus’ kingdom on earth?
  • As Jesus’ followers, how do we live in a way that helps others see the kingdom of God?

Activity Suggestions

Divide into groups and search newspapers or news websites for stories that show us what the kingdom of God is like.  Come back together and share the stories you have found.  Discuss if it was  easy or hard to find “good news” stories. What kind of news stories got the most attention?  Brainstorm ways to share the stories you have found so others may hear what the kingdom of God is like.

Closing Prayer

Jesus our Savior,  we ask that you reign in our lives.  Help us to cast aside all the other things we would like to make our king and turn our hearts to You.  Send us out to share Your love and serve our brothers and sisters.  Amen.