(Editors note: Due to an inadvertent error, The Express was unable to publish this Finding Faith article by Pastor Sharon Weaver in our Saturday, Nov. 24 edition.)
Last words have a special weight that other words do not.
Last words are given particular significance simply because they are last words. Think of the last words that are spoken at the graveside, or the last words that are said to a child when dropping he or she off at college, or the last words of the sermon.
People attend last words.
The Bible is full of partings and parting words are given a prominent place in the biblical narrative.
II Samuel 23: Giving King David’s last words as his life and reign draw to a close. We are each of us to the reflective work of remembrance. Is God’s word to us borne out by fruits of righteousness in a flourishing community.
David’s reign comes to the end and yet his farewell address is not sorrowful.
The one dream that didn’t die was of a King yet to come.
One will come from David’s line who will be a king like David at his best. The King of all Kings did come and one wonders if David would recognize him.
Last words were asked, “how can you be king who ruled with stories2. Who walked to work and slept beneath the stars? How can you be king who refused kingdoms claimed no crown, walked to work, thanked a ride to town?”
Jesus is a king unlike human rulers, who seek power and pleasure. And unlike human kingdom, the kingdom in which Christ reigns is a realm with no boundaries, no limitations and no end.
Our lives depend on recognizing Jesus’ kingship. Jesus can free us from our small worlds and our self-centeredness. The dream of Christ’s kingdom will renew us.
“The one who is and is to come will bring grace and peace.”
Nearly the final quarter of John’s gospel consists of Jesus’ parting words to his disciples.
Jesus was preparing the disciples, at length for his death and for their lives without him.
The kingdom is present whenever Jesus is present. It is present wherever we experience the reign of God. Through God’s invitation, healing and restoration; our belonging is not up to each one of us alone. Our belonging is up to God. That is the new reality that Jesus proclaims.
This is the new truth to which all of us, the community of those invited, healed and restored belong.
In the last words — in truth, Jesus is the judge and king.
The approaching advent season calls us again to that question in the hymn “Who is Jesus?”
“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked of all his disciples.
What child is this who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap in sleeping?
When angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring him laud the babe, the son of Mary. Who is Jesus for you for us.
OUR LAST WORDS.”
II Samuel 23: 1-7
John 18: 33-37
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Sharon Weaver of The People’s Church of Farrandsville.