Message from the Pastor
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
All of us remember the story of the sword in the stone. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table? The story has many sides. Most of us remember the part about young Arthur, who was just a servant in the courts, who was able to pull an amazing historic sword from a stone where it was firmly embedded. The inscription to the sword said that only the person meant to be the future king would be able to remove the sword. That person would be a person of special nature and character. While others, particularly in high positions, grasped and pulled in vain, those who were far more worthy, Arthur, in a time of dire need, simply grasped the handle and pulled it suddenly and easily from its resting place. From then on, Arthur would be hailed as king of all England. A wise king, he not only knighted those with hearts loyal to the kingdom, but he created what was called the “round table,” a kind of circle of equality. The knights together would contribute to the decisions of the kingdom, its safety, and its success. The sword was a “discerning” sword, a judging sword. It could “mystically” discern the heart of he who grasped its handle and knew who would be worthy. In Arthur’s day, and even today, persons considered worthy are “knighted” by touching a sword to either side of their shoulders. This gesture signifies that the person appointed has been discerned to be of true character and nature and will be loyal to the kingdom. It is an honor to be knighted.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Apostle Paul (6: 10-20), describes the vision of a Christian “knight,” one who has put on the armor of God, belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, and shoes that proclaim a gospel of peace-one who holds a shield of faith, wears a helmet of salvation, and wields the sword of the Spirit (the word of God).
Christians are spiritual knights to the worthy and true spiritual king, Jesus the Christ. This imagery is continued in a sense in the gospel of John, in which Jesus describes himself as the Son of Man, and again the Bread of life. While most refuse to recognize him as the rightful “king,” Jesus’ inner 12 remain faithful to their call. Jesus asks the 12 if they too will fall away from following him. Simon Peter replies, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6: 67-68).
Jesus has the words of eternal life. The word for words here is used in the NT to show the hearing of spiritual words, living words of faith that affect a disciple, that is, the “voice” of God. It is commonly used to show times when the “Lord speaks the living word to in-birth faith,” according to Strong’s Lexicon (4877). Spiritual “hearing” goes along with the divine infusion of faith within a listener. The words of Christ are an auditory vehicle. What Peter is saying is that Jesus’ voice, his message, his articulation of scripture, his divine and prophetic voice itself is witness to who he is as the Holy One of God. Jesus himself is the discerning sword of truth. And in listening to his voice, one who has “ears to hear” can and will discern the Truth of God through him. And He will in turn as a double-edged sword will discern the hearts of others and know who has faith and who does not. Listen to the word of apostle John (5:24): “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Whether the Torah stones of David, the Hair of Solomon, or the Sword of the Spirit, the power of God and the voice of God through these vehicles is the force that judges and instills faith in the hearts of people. And the greatest of these is Christ. This is a critical turning point in Jesus’ ministry. Many of his disciples walked away from him after he began proclaiming his identity in earnest. But his inner twelve remained steadfast and loyal. These are his “so to speak” spiritual knights. Led by apostle Peter, the spokesperson for the group, they would understand the power of Jesus’ voice, the way he re-interpreted the scriptures, the way his voice could both heal the sick and sear like a knife into the arguments and the hearts of those who were hypocritical. Like a Roman gladius (sword), which could pierce even the toughest armor, Jesus’ voice, his words of truth, his identity and mission, they knew, was of divine origin. And he had appointed them to wield test the same “sword of discernment” as apostles, spiritually “knighted” by the Holy Spirit, in their mission to the world to heal, proclaim, and make disciples. Through the words and Word of Jesus, spread by the apostles or chosen “knights of the Spirit,” Jesus’ kingdom would grow and flourish. The twelve were in a sense Jesus’ “round table.” Led by the Holy Spirit, the future round table would be made up of key disciples and apostles, who would take Jesus’ gospel message of God’s love, redemption and God’s call for repentance and reconciliation to the entire world.
Knighted and prepared, as Apostle Paul described they would prepare to battle the forces that would trip them up along the way, both spiritual and physical, and they would both heal and judge hearts as Jesus prepared them to do. The result was the growth of the church in numbers too great to count! Today, we too are called to continue Jesus’ mission to the world from wherever we are in life. We too are called to be knights, bound as St. Paul described in the armor of Christ and wielding the spiritual sword of discernment, so that we can bestow Christ’s healing love and forgiving mercy upon all who come to him. Our world still is filled with all kinds of foes and dangers. We need the words of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the power of Christ among us and within us to withstand the forces that would betray us. Forces of dissension, war, hatred, envy, anger, illness and death, depression, guilt and shame, oppression. And there are many more to battle. Your sword of Christ, your armor and shield of faith, will protect you and defend you from all of these and more and will help you to discern the Truth amidst the turmoil of today’s world events. When you are feeling blown about by the winds of change and whipped about by the storms of life, be they spiritual or physical, just remember that you are standing on the rock of truth, a Knight of the True King Christ, clothed in his glory and girded up with his strength. You stand amidst every storm of life sturdy and solid holding up high your sword of Christ. You hear his voice. You see his face. You know his mission. You proclaim his message. You will not be moved. The world is waiting. Jesus is waiting. Go and heal the world. Reconcile the world through your love, acceptance and service. Hope to see you in person real soon at one of our church services.