Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC
SUNDAY BIBLETALK
November 21st, 2021
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
King of the Universe

Excerpt from

A Pocketful of Sundays

Pilate may very well have assumed that Jesus was talking about a kingdom in a different geographical region -- perhaps in an unknown corner of the desert, or on another planet light years away. Like Pilate, Christians have often regarded the reign of God as a physical reality located somewhere beyond Earth; often, in times of loss or hardship, those who believe in the afterlife have taken comfort in the idea of a heavenly realm in which there is neither death nor suffering, nor separation from loved ones. This belief in a "better place" has given courage to the imprisoned, the marginalized and the brutalized; at the same time, it has created a piety in which it is "alright" to neglect the world we live in because we are focusing on the world to come. Such a perspective creates an unhealthy world view based on disdain for the physical universe.

As I read over Jesus' words, I don't think he was speaking about the world to come. It is not that I discount the afterlife or the existence of a heavenly realm; rather, I believe Jesus meant something like this:

"The values I live by and model for my disciples have no place in your kingdom. In my kingdom, Truth is a core value. Here, in my realm, my subjects speak Truth, live Truth, avoid all forms of duplicity and are entirely forgiving. Here, in my realm, there is no trickery, manipulation, or backstabbing; here, in my realm, there is neither competitiveness nor judgmentalism but only love..."



UPCOMING COURSES

Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT)
Thursdays, Jan 27-March 10, 2022
6:00-7:30 p.m. EST


Catholic Theological Union (CTU)
Tuesdays, Feb 1-May 24, 2022
6:00-9:15 p.m. CST


Institute for Life Coach Training (ILCT)
Wednesdays, May 11-June22, 2022
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A TRILOGY
FOR CHRISTMAS?

If there are any young readers on your Christmas list (11 yrs old and up) or if you yourself enjoy a blend of science, fantasy, science fiction, adventure and archetypal battles between good and evil, I highly recommend Karl Hanson's amazing trilogy (Cf. review below). I had the privilege of serving as Karl's "writing coach" and was mesmerized by his text. I hope you get to enjoy it as well!


Greetings, SBT Readers!

Apologies for this very late edition of SBT! My Covid-19 booster shot seems to have blocked my creativity as well as my ability to stay awake at the computer!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Elizabeth


SCRIPTURE REFLECTION

Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the authorities, but, as it is, my kingdom is not here." 
So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" 
Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. 
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
JN 18: 33b-37

Here, in the U.S., I see few visible signs of Christ's kingship in the general population, especially in the generations following my own. Of course, there are active faith communities of all denominations, but for many young adults, Christianity is either irrelevant or else has become associated with bigotry, hypocrisy and abuse. Only last week, one of my students chronicled how, growing up, he had faced discrimination from his church because of his sexual orientation, and how he was frequently threatened with hell. He then went on to describe pedophilia and the Ku Klux Klan as defining characteristics of Christianity. I pointed out that these were vile distortions of the Christian message, but he was not convinced. He lacked the historical background and general knowledge to be able to distinguish between Jesus and the Church and its representatives, or between Jesus and societal prejudice. As far as he was concerned, Christianity was the source of every problem he and others had ever faced in life. Disheartened, I headed to my next class, only to encounter more of the same -- angry students who felt that Christianity was to blame for sexism, racism, classism, along with intolerance towards the LGBTQ community and the limiting of reproductive rights.

The truth of the matter is that while there are 2.6 billion adherents to Christianity globally, Christianity is declining in the west. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Western Europe's Christians are non-practicing; similarly, in the U.S, "the decline of Christianity continues at a rapid pace." It's heartening to know that Christianity is on the rise in African nations and in the Latin south, but for those of us who live in the west, unless one is a member of a religious community or works in a religious institution, it is very much like living in a post-Christian society. Take the liturgical seasons, for example. They have been hi-jacked by the world of commerce, stripped of Jesus, and reduced to an infantile wonderland of elves and egg-laying bunnies. Christmas is little more than an orgy of partying and gift-giving, while Easter provides the perfect marketing opportunity for chocolatiers and florists. "Where is Jesus?" one might ask. Well, don't look for Nativity scenes or crosses because they have no longer have a place in the public domain. As for Advent calendars, they have nothing to do with joyful expectation of the coming of Christ and everything to do with the countdown to the Christmas bonanza!

Western society has become a spiritual wasteland marked by religious illiteracy and hostility towards organized religion. Walking through department stores and shopping malls at this time of year, it is easy to feel like a stranger in a foreign land; unable to identify with the values and agendas of those around us, we may experience disorientation, even alienation. If one inhabits this wasteland, then it is imperative to have a faith community to serve as a place of refuge and support. For some, this might mean belonging to a church; for others, it could mean gathering with those who hold similar beliefs and values, or even working with a spiritual director. We walk between two worlds -- the Kingdom of God and the rule of Mammon. To stay faithful to our Christian commitment, we must keep both feet in the Kingdom of God!



QUESTIONS
FOR REFLECTION

  • In what ways is Christ "King" of your life?

  • How does being a Christian affect your interactions with others?

  • What supports you in your life of faith?

  • To what extent do you feel like an "alien" in contemporary society?




RESOURCES
Check out my Resiliency Assessment Tool on the home page of my new website: https://www.embracingpossibility.com

Try my Spiritual Self-Assessment Tool! After you take the Quiz, you will automatically receive a computer-generated analysis of your strengths and "growing edges." https://assess.coach/eastewart/

Please note that I offer Writing Coaching/ Editing, in addition to Life Coaching, Spiritual Direction, and Retreats.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AND LIFE COACHING BY PHONE OR ZOOM
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. During COVID-19, sessions are by phone or on Zoom; I am also available to facilitate "virtual" retreats for groups and individuals.
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | www.elizabeth-annestewart.com | e.a.stewart@sbcglobal.net

C. All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, www.artfulphotographer.com