Sermon 1/12 A New World Order

Date: January 12, 2020
Scripture Lessons: Psalm 72:1-7, 12-14 and Matthew 3:13-17
Sermon: A New World Order
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

I find myself amused when I hear a speaker, a preacher or politician, decry the
threat of a new world order ginning up fear and trembling. A new world order is
dangled as evidence of Satan himself undermining all we hold dear. A new world
order is maligned like an enemy invader in a science fiction movie. We cannot
allow a new world order to emerge. We must prevent it!

To me this is amusing because the speaker is usually Christian and seen as a
defender of the faith against the threat of a new world order. But a new world
order is exactly what Jesus came to inaugurate. He is the one who embodies the
new world order of the reign of Divine Love. Jesus is seen as breaking into human
history and initiating God’s reign of peace and love. A new world order? Yes, that
is exactly what Jesus about.

King Herod knows this. We see it in the story of the magi visiting Herod as they
try to find the baby Jesus so they can worship him. Herod knows about the arrival
of a rival king. The religious leaders know that Jesus represents a new world order
and they want to squash this upstart. They want to protect their power and
influence. The people in the gospel stories who are from the underclass and from
enemy groups know that Jesus represents a departure from religion as usual in their
time. That is why they are attracted to him. He represents a new world order.

Jesus doesn’t introduce a new form of government or a new political philosophy.
He doesn’t found a new political party. He doesn’t write a constitution. He initiates a new world order and then it is up to his followers to work out the details in their culture, setting, and historical era.

We can see what Jesus is doing as a new world order because he is talking about
God in a way that is universal. Jesus shows us God in all of humanity including
those we exclude and name as enemy. With Jesus, there is no “other.” It’s one
human family in God not one nation under God or one religion preferred by God.
Jesus breaks down the cultural and religious barriers that separate and divide
people. He is talking about everyone unconditionally loved. No exceptions.

In our context, this means North Korean, South Korean, Israeli, Palestinian,
Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian, Irani, Iraqi, Indian, Pakistani, Arab, Muslim, Jew,
Buddhist, Hindu. As we sing, on occasion, every color, every kind, every body,
every mind. All one family. With Jesus, there is one human family in God. All
related. All created in the image of Divine Love. It’s a new world order.

And today, we know that the kind of new world order Jesus imagines for humanity
includes the natural world as well. Not only does Jesus show us a reality that is
free of ethnocentrism, and nationalism, he shows us a reality free of speciesism.
All life forms, sacred and holy within the reality of God because we now know that
we are all interdependent. So, the new world order of Jesus is characterized by
compassion for creation and all creatures as well as everyone in the human family.

What else can we say about this new world order founded by Jesus? Yes, it
includes all people so we can also say that it includes all religions. Jesus is Jewish
and his message comes from within the framework of Judaism, but it is not limited
to Judaism. Jesus heals people who are considered enemies of the Jews. And he
does not ask them to “convert” to his religion before serving them. In fact, he
doesn’t insist on any qualifying conditions from those he forgives, feeds, or heals.
Jesus simply offers divine grace in whatever form it is needed. He brings the
blessings of God to all. He embodies universal love. That is the foundation of his
new world order.

We also see that in the new world order of Jesus there is no role, no place, no
endorsement of violence in any form. Even in self defense. Period. That is a key
component of the new world order of Jesus. There were weapons available in his
day. In fact, there were factions of Jews who were adamantly intent on fomenting
a violent rebellion against the Romans. This was carried out after Jesus’ death and
it led to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple, the cultic center of
Jewish life. From love your enemies to turn the other cheek to the one who lives
by the sword dies by the sword to the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, we see
that in the new world order of Jesus there is no place for weapons or violence, even
in “keeping the peace.” You can’t keep the peace through violence. If you need
threat and intimidation to maintain order, then it’s not true peace.

In the psalm that we heard today, we were told of the holy template for a godly
ruler. A ruler, king, or leader, endorsed by the Divine is concerned about the weak
and the oppressed: Those who are forgotten, marginalized, or ignored. Those who
are made poor and are struggling. With the new world order, there is no
fragmentation or endorsement of disconnected individualism. There is no
protection based on race, class, nation, creed, gender identity, or any other humanly
constructed system. In the new world order of Jesus, the community is to serve
those in need and to embody justice and protection for those who have been
victimized.

So in Jesus’ new world order, we would not see the economic, racial, ethnic, or
social inequalities that we see in society today. Jesus is talking about a new world
order in which there truly is liberty and justice for all.

Jesus shows us the new world order where the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given
drink, the sick are visited, and the imprisoned are released. Humility and
meekness are revered, not hubris and arrogance. Every life is sacred and valued.

A new world order. Exactly. That is exactly what Jesus is about. And that is what
his followers were drawn to. They wanted to be part of this new value system, this
new world view, this new reality.

It’s not surprising that we find ourselves buffeted and reeling in our society today.
We are here in church because we have been attracted or led or drawn to the way
of Jesus and the new world order that he represents. So, yes we find ourselves in
stunned shock, not only as an active shooter attacks a worshipping congregation,
but at the perhaps even more horrific response – congregants in a Christian church,
followers of Jesus, drawing guns and shooting the attacker in the head. What are
followers of Jesus, those who are part of his new world order, doing with guns?
And in worship? In a context committed to love of enemy, how is it that a shooter
is gunned down? What have we come to when the church has strayed so far from
the new world order that Jesus initiates? The church has become unhinged,
unmoored, from its message, it’s purpose, its raison d’etre.

What are we to say when our so called Christian country foments prejudice and
violence? This is wrong. But how does it happen that there is rising anti Semitism
when Jesus was Jewish? How can our society supposedly with a foundation of
Judeo-Christian values tolerate this? How can someone enter into a rabbi’s home
and open fire on people celebrating a holy season? This, too, leaves us in stunned
shock.

And how does it happen that a church, church leaders, followers of Jesus, openly,
in the sacred space of a sanctuary, validate and affirm the leadership of a president
who embodies the opposite of the godly ruler that we heard about from the Psalms
this morning? How can they endorse one who is not devoted to the the well being
of the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed? A leader who in fact endorses
oppression and abuse and violence? This is a leader who should be prayed for.
This is a leader who needs wise counsel. This is a leader who is unfamiliar with
the message of the gospel and needs to be taught about the new world order of
Jesus since he evidently hasn’t heard about it in the churches he has visited.

A new world order. That is exactly what we see in Jesus. And we see this
presented in the story of Jesus’ baptism. As the story is told, crowds of people are
coming to John in the desert to be baptized. They are looking for a new beginning. Jesus comes. And in the story of his baptism, we are told of a new beginning, not
just for him, but for the community and for humanity of every time and place.

“This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased.” This story, written after the
crucifixion, endorses Jesus and the new world order that he initiates. It is a reality
of blessing for everyone where there are no victims. No one’s wellbeing is at the
expense of someone else. There is no racism, sexism, classism, or oppression of
any kind. Every life is sacred. Including the life of a perceived enemy. Jesus’
baptism paves the way for us to be part of the new world order. And when we join
the Christian path, as followers of Jesus, we commit to making this new world
order real, incarnate, in ourselves and in our society and in the world here and now.

Jean Vanier founded the L’Arche communities. This movement involves people of
differing abilities living together in Christian community. And in the stories of
those communities, we see the beauty of the gospel lived out. Vanier tells us: “In
one of our communities, there is a man called Pierre who has a mental handicap.
One day someone asked him, ‘Do you like praying?’ He answered, ‘Yes.’ He was
asked what he did when he prayed. He answered, ‘I listen.’ ‘And what does God
say to you?’ ‘He says, ‘You are my beloved son.’’” [Resources for Preaching and
Worship Year A: Quotations, Meditations, Poetry, and Prayers, compiled by
Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, p. 48]

That is what Jesus is all about. Everyone beloved. A new world order. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in
this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church
of Christ.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.