Angie Larson, Clive, IA

 Warm-up Question

Who is your favorite king or queen,  real or fictional? What qualities do they have?

What Kind of King?

Immediately following the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg, PA, Tarek El-Messidi took to Launch Good to raise funds for the Synagogue and the victims’ families. The interesting thing  is not that funds were raised, but that a Muslim organization, Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue, did it.  Muslim and Jewish groups have not always cooperated in the past and are often in conflict in the Middle East.

However, El-Messidi had a different vision. He hoped to raise over $25,000 to take the financial burden of funerals off of families affected by the shooting.  “We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action,” he wrote on the organization’s webpage. Through his faith lens he talks about the recipients as fellow human beings being impacted by hate and tragedy. He led the Muslim community to see commonality with their Jewish brothers and sisters in their shared Abrahamic roots. His Launch Good effort has now raised over $238,000 for the victim’s families. “I think it says that there’s a lot more good in humanity than there is bad and evil and hatred,” said El-Messidi in a radio interview.

Discussion Questions

  • What is your initial reaction to Tarek El-Messidi’s plan? What did he risk to lead this effort?
  • How else could El-Messidi have responded to this tragedy? Do you think there are others who would disagree with El-Messidi’s plan?
  • Do you agree with the final statement? Do you think there is more good in humanity than bad, evil, and hatred?

Christ the King Sunday

(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

“What kind of king are you?” Pontius Pilate seems genuinely interested in why the Jews seem to hate Jesus so much. Pilate wants to see if he has a political rebellion on his hands; it’s his job to get to the bottom of this mess between Jesus and the religious leadership. Jesus questions back, asking why Pilate is posing his question:  How did you hear of me? What have you heard?

Pilates’ curiosity is peaked. He wants to know what Jesus has done that is so bad that his own people have pushed him towards this moment. Jesus answers, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from 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.”

This world tells us that power comes from might, that kingdoms are made by threatening military force and coercion. The Jewish leaders, Pontius Pilate, and Jesus knew this.  The Roman Empire ruled with power and might. They kept people in line by violence and crucifixion. They thwarted conflict by killing of those who disagreed. It was clear who ruled in this kingdom.

Jesus tells us that his kingdom looks different. His kingdom is in many ways the opposite of the Roman Empire. Jesus’ kingdom lifts up the least, the lost, the lowest, and the lonely. His kingdom sees leadership as service to others, not pushing others around. His kingdom seeks healing and love, not force and pain. His kingdom seeks to persuade, not to coerce. Jesus’ kingdom is different.

Discussion Questions

  • How is Jesus’ kingdom different from the Roman Empire?
  • What are some ways our world is like Jesus’ kingdom? What are some ways it’s more like the Roman Empire?
  • Are there ways that your church, school, or youth group is more like one kingdom or the other?

Activity Suggestions

Bring in pictures or names of famous leaders, fictional or real.  Examples include Pharaoh, King Arthur, Lord Voldemort, Queen Victoria, T’Challa (Black Panther), Adolf Hitler, King Wenceslas, King David, King Henry the 8th, King Tut, Genghis Khan, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, Moses, Martin Luther King Jr.  Ask students to think about the leadership style of each person. Did they rule in a Christ-like manner? Did they rule with force and dominance? What results did these leaders achieve? What were the challenges?

Closing Prayer

Blessed Savior, We thank you that your kingdom comes. Help us to see ways to bring your kingdom to earth in service of our neighbors. Forgive us when we err and guide us to care for the least, the lost, the lowest, and the lonely in our communities. Direct us to be servant leaders like your son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray.  Amen.