From Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father – to Him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen!
In our garden we have a few garden beds, made of metal, of plastic, of pallets. One of them has a gap in it’s side, so when we water the water flows straight out and takes some dirt with it. It’s a broken bed, yet a gardener can fix it and keep the treasured plants it holds. A good gardener tends to all things in His garden; every part, He takes care of all these things He has authority over. He loves his walled garden, his paradise. He lives for it, his little kingdom of life, of plants, bugs, birds, and all sorts of things. Like a little Christ, he cares for that part of Creation he has been given.
And Jesus is our gardener; Christ is King! Lord over all! Just as we have heard on this last Sunday at the end of this strange Church Year, there is a revelation as we remember the end of this world, and Paradise, that walled garden, that awaits. As The Holy Spirit foretold through Daniel, the Son of Man has ascended with clouds to the Ancient of Days and has been given authority over all things (7:13-14). He Himself tells us at the end of Matthew’s Gospel account, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (28:18-20). And just as we prayerfully proclaim in the doxology after the Lord’s Prayer, “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours; now and forever.” (Daniel 7:14). Jesus Christ is today; caring for His garden, Lord of heaven and earth; the faithful witness who has taught us this truth; the firstborn of the dead who brings us this victory; and the Ruler even now over all the kings of the earth. Jesus reigns! He who is beginning and end; who is, who was, and who is to come; the Lord God Almighty!
And He has shown His love and care to all humans, even all of Creation, in giving up His life for those who hated Him; remember His words from the cross, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). And He has been revealed to you. You know Jesus Christ is God and man, though perhaps we don’t truly understand this wonderful truth. You know He has defeated sin, death and the devil; though we still struggle against their final desperations. You know God Almighty reigns today, though perhaps we wish He did things differently. You know He loves you, has freed you from a life of sin by His blood, and has made us to be a Holy Nation, and a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). To reign with Him where He has placed you (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:6).
To serve and care amongst your family, your friends, this parish, this town. To receive His treasures, Love, Joy and Peace, and to let Him grow and spread these gifts through you. To pray with Jesus as He prays for His Church, for the world and for all those in need. To speak as one speaking the very words of God, to serve as one serving in God’s strength (1 Peter 4:11). To let Him influence not just you and your life, yet also the part of His Creation that’s around you. For by God’s Promise you are a little Christ, a little gardener, as the Baptismal candle receives its flame from the Christ candle, you receive your Life, your Way from Christ’s Everlasting Way of Life (John 8:12; Matthew 5:14).
You have been called to reign with Jesus, to participate in His Everlasting Kingdom; to bring paradise into this world; to fight the Good Fight against, sin, death and the devil where He has placed you. To live for those around you, not yourself. To love even your enemies, not reject them. To serve Righteousness, not pride or greed or laziness or weeds. How is your corner of the garden growing? … Is there some things that need fixing, some places you need help? Thank God for our King! For Jesus Christ loves you, the Holy Spirit serves you, Our Heavenly Father provides strength, that we all might love, serve and provide for those He gives us. Our King has dealt with your sin, your failure, He gives you new life, even today He renews you that you need not fear, and has defeated your enemies. Freed from your sin by His blood, you are now members of His Kingdom, saved priests to serve in His garden bringing life to the world around you. You are forgiven, now rely on God Almigthy in this New Life. Speak to your King, ask Him for help, for mercy, thank Him for the Words and gifts He gives you, pray for those around you; and work with God Almighty as He serves His garden, bringing His victory and everlasting life to His Creation, through you.
And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, now and into Paradise Everlasting. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.