This assigned text from the book of Revelation signals the conclusion of the church year: Christ the King Sunday. It bears witness that God in Christ is the Author and Redeemer of all things: the Alpha (the first letter of the Greek alphabet, symbolizing “beginnings”) and the Omega (the last letter of the Greek alphabet, symbolizing “endings”). This is to say, every “tick” and every “tock” of time and history has its source and being in God. And nothing, not even the “dead ends” of death or decay in our lives, are beyond the redeeming reach of God’s restorative power.
One of Martin Luther’s famous sayings is that: “Next to Holy Scripture, music deserves the highest praise” (TR 4441, 7034, 968). And so I’d like to draw upon God’s great gift of music, come this Christ the King Sunday, to serve as an instrument in sounding God’s Word of saving grace for you…moving up and down life’s scale.
I’ll begin the sermon with a true story about an old cowboy named Bill, whom I met back in 1980, while riding on an Am Trak train that took me from St. Paul, MN, to the northwest corner of Montana. Something happened in our conversation that triggered some thoughts, now some 40 years later, that I’d like for you to mull over between now and this weekend at worship.
Here’s the heart of it…The musical scale, on which is built every melody ever hummed or sung or written or played, is a simple mathematical structure of 8 steps (sing them with me): DO-RE-MI-FA-SOL-LA-TI-DO. The first and the eighth step sound the same don’t they? DO-DO. The beginning and the end are alike. Right? We can hear that likeness and continuity between start and finish. And in relation to God the same is true (cf. Revelation 1:8).
The Bible itself reflects this reassuring message at its start and at its finish. Think about it…From the very first page to the last, God is at work in a way that’s wonderfully consistent: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This is the first verse of the Bible. Near the finish, almost at the end of the book of Revelation, St. John the seer says: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more…for the home of God is among us…mourning and crying and [death] will be no more, for the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).
In the same way, the Bible speaks of Jesus as the “pioneer and perfecter” of our faith; the King James Version says “author and finisher” (Hebrews 12:2), the first and the last – the One who begins and the One who completes our trek, our pilgrimage that comes from and returns to God (Psalm 121). And so, in the beginning: “the heavens and the earth.” And in the end: “a new heaven and a new earth.” DO-DO. Let this sound a wonderful homing, tonic chord for your soul this day – in this Season of Thanksgiving – joining into one grand scale, from heaven to earth come down, all the Re-s, the Mi-s, and the Fa Sol La Ti-s!
I greatly look forward to sharing the STORY with you this coming, Christ the King Sunday.
j. r. christopherson