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 When I was a child my family used to go camping...and as soon as we finished setting up my sister and I would take off and explore.  At one campsite, I don’t recall where, but it must have been in the Alberta foothills, we found a cliff.  A wonderful, tall, rough cliff...the bottom was all pine trees and broken slabs and the side of the cliff went almost straight up, jagged and dangerous.  So, of course, I decided to climb it. When I was almost to the top, hands and knees scraped and blooded I looked down and got a little anxious. I was sure I’d never be able to climb down....only one way left.  Up.  When I got to the top the wind was blowing so hard I thought I’d be pushed off that cliff... I hurt, I was tired, I was exhilarated…the view was incredible. And staring over that cliff edge I felt awe and fear.   I had made it to the top and was bursting with excitement and joy ...ready to tell the world...and I was amazed by how scary it looked and how dangerous it was up there. Awe and a good way. Many of us, when we read the bible… read the words ‘fear the Lord’ with the thought of being scared of punishment.  In fact, many people associate the ‘fear of the Lord’ with the Old Testament…with a mean God who smites people and causes war and wreaks havoc.  Some see the old and new testaments as dualistic... meaning containing two opposing thoughts…the big mean God vs. The loving tender Jesus. However, we know in our hearts and affirm in our creeds that they are one and the same, both loving toward their people, demanding in their desire for righteousness and absolute in power. Today, we celebrate Christ the King and today we explore different ways to look at God and Christ, fear and awe, and how they all work together. In Jeremiah we look at God, The Father, as the shepherd of his people.  Shepherd being a term we use most commonly associate with Jesus.  Because of the parable we’ve named the Good Shepherd, we tend to imagine only Jesus as the Good Shepherd...not God the Father.   We have put each in their own box, separating them from each other and dividing the Trinity into easily relatable parts.  But God is complex, and defies our attempts to box God in and confine her with stereotypes. For example the title The Good Shephard.   We seem to only relate this title to Jesus, however in the Old Testament God was often referred to as a shepherd, because Shepherd was one of the titles or characteristics associated with good kingship.  Being shepherd to the people, guiding them, protecting them, providing for them and helping them grow.  A good king was like a shepherd and so too is God. However, shepherds go far beyond our stereotypical image of Jesus amidst the flocks on a grassy knoll.  Shepherds are not just mild mannered we know from stories around David and Goliath, shepherds were expected ...and commonly did, fight and chase off wolves, jackals and lions with mere rocks and sticks.  Shepherds were tough, strong and dangerous just as much as they were tender, loving and self sacrificing. A shepherd was one who could inspire love or fear...or both. Today, as we celebrate Christ the king we have the opportunity to break through the stereotypes around Christ.  Just as we put God in a box, so too have we put Christ in a box.  We have restricted Christ to the images we learnt of in Sunday school.  We forget that Christ too is awesome in power and majesty, and today we have the chance to think of Christ in that fearsome way.  An opportunity to embrace Jesus in fear and awe.   A sublime force.  Christ no longer divested of power, but full of the majesty of his original state in Trinity, rather than his humbled state in humanity. Like the wind on that cliff I told you about....or like a monsoon sweeping over parched land.  Something to fear, yet a wonder and joy to behold...and a necessity in all its glorious scariness. In Colossians today we hear the hymn of Christ the King...a list, almost a creed, of Christ’s supremacy.   A resume, as it were, of why Jesus is Lord. The image of the invisible God....firstborn of all him all things in heaven and on earth were created...thrones, dominions, rulers, powers all created through him and for him.  He is before all things and holds all things him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him God was pleased to reconcile himself in all things...through the blood of his cross. Powerful words…and nowhere reading this do I get the image, in my mind,  of Jesus with the lambs all meek and mild.  This is Christ the King victorious in power...the very face of God walking among us.  This is the resurrected Christ, Christ in his usual state. After all, in the face of eternity the mere 30 some odd years Christ spent in human form is a drop in the bucket…it is not business as usual.  It was exceptional…truly exceptional and I think we tend to forget that.  The Trinity, of which Christ, God and Spirit are all a part is not meant to be compartmentalized into small and easily digestible stereotypes. There is no big mean bully of an Old Testament God and a loving, tender hearted Jesus of the New Testament.They are one and the same...loving and terrifying at the same time, awesome and tender, fearful and comforting, sublime, yet relatable.  It is a mystery, and a beautiful and awesome one at that. We are heading into advent next week, and soon after Christmas, where we encounter Christ as a babe, vulnerable and tender.  A baby which we can all relate to and which we can all admire.  But before we do so…this final day of the church year…(for today is in essence new years eve…and advent one the first day of the church year)…this final day, we remember what Christ gave up to become that humble babe.  We remember that Christ the King this same awe-full, fear inspiring, supreme creator...that shepherd that both loves his sheep and kills the lions to protect them ....chose....purposefully become the lamb that is slain. It is a… it is THE supreme sacrifice of a truly loving God… that the Trinity would tear a piece of itself away for the saving of us, mere creatures.  That God, almighty...Christ from before all time...Holy Spirit, breath of the creator...willingly, joyfully and out of his own love take all that power, fear and awesome nature and put it aside to be born to a frightened, lonely, young girl in a shaky relationship, from a small obscure town. As we head into advent we need the reminder that the King of Kings and the Creator of all the universe willingly stripped himself of power and was born naked and screaming like the rest of us...helpless and dependant...dependant on love of a teenage girl and her angry and confused fiancé.   The great role reversal, God and baby…you cannot have one without the other. And we cannot forget the purpose of that humble stripping of power…a purpose read out to us in the gospel.  A gospel which may have seemed oddly out of place today…reading the crucifixion when Easter is so far away and Christmas so near, this gospel feels like it doesn’t belong here. But these are the boxes and restrictions that we have created. The cross always has its place, just as does the babe in the manger and the glory of the King of Kings.  God is not simple, the path of salvation is not a straight line and our faith is not one we can box up and put a bow on like a Christmas present.  Keeping only the pretty parts visible or the bits that make sense to us. Today we are reminded of the whole story.  Of all the bits of the story of salvation that make us uncomfortable…that make us hesitant, nervous… full of fear and full of awe.  We are reminded that God, the Trinity, has all the power and majesty of a Monsoon able to wash clean off the face of the earth trees, mountains and yes even people.  But, that power was ultimately used and forsaken to save us.  Abandoned and put aside so that God, the King of all Creation, the Master of the Universe could be tortured and killed by his own creation…and paradoxically through that death, bring life.  Because our King is a good king, a shepherd of God’s people and a good shepherd gives up his life for the flock. Today we are reminded of the big picture, we are reminded to cast off the stereotypes and see God the Father as the good shepherd and Jesus of Nazareth as the King of the whole Universe.  To look with fear, awe and respect at the loving way our God, Father Son and Holy Spirit have worked together throughout all of salvation history to bring us, little insignificant us…to life eternal. So that, we to can walk and talk with the God who not only created us and all of the multiverse…but loves us…individually and particularly.  So much so that he would give it all up to be with us…but that story is for next week. As for this week, let us never forget the context and complexity of the faith we follow…        of the God who made us, loves us, and may we, in the face of such sacrificial love always be in fear and awe….. amen