November 21, 2021
Christ the King is always an interesting day in the church calendar. It’s always the last Sunday before we start the blue season of Advent. Today, we celebrate Jesus as our king—in fact, king of everything! And we have all this great imagery to describe Jesus as king, from our Daniel reading that depicts him as the glorious Son of Man descending with the clouds, to hymns like Come, Thou, Almighty King and Lead On, O King Eternal. When we imagine the return of Christ, we always see him depicted as a great and victorious king, conquering the world.
But then we look at other people we call “king.” In the United States, the last king we had was King George III, and we liked him so much one of our founding documents is basically a Dear John letter to him. And if we don’t think of real-world kings, maybe we think of fantasy shows like Game of Thrones, where kings are horrible, cruel, destructive people. Or maybe we think of silly kings, like King Arthur in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Kings, in most of our experience, are either incompetent, cruel, or irrelevant.
October 31, 2021
In a lot of our family histories, an important story is always how our ancestors got to where they were going, and met the people that would eventually became part of our family too. We all have that story of how our family came over from the old country, and how they settled here in America—whether that was just a generation ago, or a couple hundred years ago. Whatever the case is, that crucial time when our family made that move became part of the family lore and influenced who we understand ourselves to be today.
Ruth is actually a story of exactly that. We heard the opening lines of that story, where we learned that this family left the Promised Land as refugees when there was a famine, and went over to the land of Moab, across the Dead Sea, to see what kind of life they could make there. Elimelech, the patriarch of the family, took his wife Naomi and his two sons Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech, the story tells us, died a short time after, and Naomi found her sons wives from among the people. Then something happened about ten years in—both Mahlon and Chilion died.