Sermons 2003-2004

The King of kings and the Lion King
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

The King of Kings and the Lion King

Epiphany 1C 2004 Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Some of you know that I have just returned from a visit with my two darling granddaughters. Like everyones grandchildren, they are the very smartest, the very prettiest -- the very best and brightest of and at everything. One thing they are getting very good at is using the computer. They learn manipulation of the computer mouse by playing a computer video CD game called the Lion King. It is a peripheral piece of merchandise from the Walt Disney movie entitled the Lion King. Some of us may have seen it.

It is a grand piece with subtle and not so subtle themes about the ultimate triumph of good over evil, of good over indifference to evil. In fact, it is always amazing to me how Hollywood so often reflects scriptural themes, both explicitly with The Ten Commandments of the 1950s, Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell in the 1960s and 1970s, The Last Temptation of Jesus in the late 1980s, Disneys Moses Prince of Egypt in the 1990s, and now Mel Gibsons Last Days of Jesus which has received papal approval. And implicitly, with such films as The Lion King.

It is usually rare that a motion picture relates so directly to the Gospel lessons of the past several weeks and especially today, especially an animated film about a non-biblical subject and story, and especially the verses about the voice from heaven at the baptism of Jesus. But The Lion King offers too parallels to ignore. I wonder if it was unconscious in the minds of the filmmakers, especially under Disneys current management.

The Lion King begins with the birth of the prince Simba, the lion cub. All the other animals of the jungle gather to acknowledge the new born prince (a scene reminiscent of last several weeks gospel lessons, where the shepherds and wise men come to the manger and pay homage to the new born king there). Our cub enjoys some brief tutelage by his father (perhaps like Joseph in the carpenter shop), but then his father is out of the picture (just as Joseph is not mentioned again after Jesus is 12). The young lion has to flee the reign of terror which follows his fathers death (like running to Egypt from Herods slaughter of the innocents). Simba grows up in the wilderness, like an Ishmael, far from the land of his birth (As Jesus in Galilean Nazareth and not Judean Bethlehem, as if exiled from his own people. There he succumbs to the temptation of self-indulgence; of privatism; of minding his own business and not worrying about his responsibility for anyone or anything else. This is very much like the way Jesus is depicted in The Last Temptation Of Christ, where the real temptation is to live quietly, simply, and selfishly, married with children; not claiming the necessary conflict, struggle, and striving after a better world that being the King of kings or the Lion King requires.

In the midst of his wilderness time, the reluctant prodigal prince becomes aware of who he really is and what he has been given to do with the help of a some voices from the past. Simba looks in the water and sees a reflection there of his father, and he suddenly realizes the fact that when other people see him, they also see his father. When that realization occurs, the clouds part and his father's voice comes out of the clouds, exhorting him to remember his sonship. He is then energized, as if with extra spirit, to run all the way back to his abandoned homeland and begins to confront the evil that has taken control there while he was absent without leave, while he had deserted his people and his responsibilities.

His first task and it is not an easy one is to rally the oppressed people of his rightful kingdom. But when the time comes to do battle with the lion called Scar, the personification of the powers of the darkness, the young lion king is on his own. The apparition of his father appears no more. But the spirit of his father dwells in him. It is obvious to everyone that the offspring represents not only himself, but also a legacy that is beyond himself.

And the voice crying in the wilderness, the John the Baptist type, it is in the form of an old baboon, Mufasa, a combination priest shaman - prophet - holy man who is recognized as representing the powers beyond. Mustafa anoints the lion-king at an early age, in a combination of infant baptism and Johns Baptism of Jesus.

Mustafa is also the one in the wilderness who calls Simba to abandon -- repent of -- his Dont worry, Be happy life with the warthog and his other companion and to get on with the work he has been given to do as the Lion King and heir to the kingdom. When Simba protests to Mustafa about not being ready for all this, the baboon hits him over the head with his stick -- much the same way the Lord wh loves us will hit us on the side of the head with a two by four to get our attention sometimes. Not all AHA! moments are mountain top experiences; sometimes they are quite painful.

The anointed one, the young Lion King finally accepts the task laid before him, just as we in our baptism and confirmation accept the talks laid before us in our own time and place. And our model is our Lord Jesus Christ, whose own Baptism marked the beginning his taking up the task which had been set before him on this earth. (1)

Ron Safer, in commenting on the Lion King, has observed that our baptism is a washing away not only of guilt, but also the accompanying excuses. A declaration of being a child of God is not only a bestowing of honor, but also a claim of greater responsibility. A theophany -- a revelation of Gods mission for us -- is not only for its own sake, but also a call to action. The road back to claiming a high sense of calling is not an easy one. There are many opportunities along the way to backslide into an effortless obscurity.

Or to mistake position and power as the task that has been laid before us. We can too easily fail to understand that often it is the very smallest of things, the least of things we do least and smallest in our own estimation anyway that may have importance beyond our understanding.

There's a story about the Scottish minister who told his congregation about dreaming he had died. When he came to the pearly gates, to his dismay, he learned that he would be denied entrance until he presented acceptable credentials. So he proudly listed the number of sermons preached and announced the number of prominent and influential pulpits he had occupied in Scotland.

But Saint Peter said that no one in heaven knew of these pulpits and had not heard the sermons. The unabashed clergyman was puzzled but then he listed his community involvement on important boards and committees. He was told they were not recorded in heaven.

Head low, defeated, the minister turned to leave, when Peter said, "Stay a moment, and tell me, are you the man who fed the sparrows?"

"Well, yes," the Scotsman replied, "but what does that have to do with it?"

"It has everything to do with it," said Saint Peter, "Come in; the Master of the sparrows is waiting for you; and he wants to thank you." (2)

The children of the King recognize that they bear the stamp of the image of the Father, and always, the calling comes to serve the needs of the Kingdom. In the sense of a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), we all run the risk of becoming Simba-like lion-kings, the self indulgent irresponsible young lion in his early days, where to misunderstand our royal calling is to be convinced that because we are free, we can do anything we want, merely to please ourselves. But the calling of the Father is to understand that to be free the perfect freedom written in the Prayer Book -- is to give ourselves up in service to the tasks set before us. To be claimed as God's own forever is to be set apart to serve.(1)

And more than that, our baptism defines who we are as Christians. It is what sets us apart from those who are not Christians. Our baptism signifies the real presence of God in our lives, as Father and Creator, as Christ our Savior and Redeemer, and Holy Spirit our guide and sustainer. We are who we are and what we are because we have been baptized.