Feast of Christ the King: Proper 29A
Ezekiel 34: 11 – 16, 20 – 24
Ephesians 1: 15 – 23
Matthew 25: 31 – 46
We all know that a shift has taken place in the world, and we see it most clearly in last year’s election in this country and the BREXIT referendum in the UK. The shift appears to be away from a global, universal outlook to a more individual, nationalist one. Me First appears to be the watchword, and that has become true about nations as well as individuals. We see this in foreign as well as domestic policy, ranging from trade, to immigration, to security, to health, to education, to gun laws, to the environment, to civil and human rights. We see this as society becomes more stratified and neighbourhoods and communities more uniform. We are losing, or perhaps have lost, our concern for the other and appear to live in a culture that says that I can do whatever I want, and the other person, or neighbourhood, or nation, simply doesn’t matter. Some political commentators see evidence of this, not just at one end of the political spectrum, but at both ends. And some argue that this isn’t a recent phenomenon, but has its roots back several decades.
But this Me First attitude is in stark contrast to the kind of life we are trying to live as Christians, and as a Christian community. It is such a stark contrast, that I have spent some time pondering what it is that sets us apart from the world, and shapes our life as Christians in a fundamentally different way, so much so, that not only are we set apart from the world, sooner or later our values as Christians will set us in conflict with a world where a Me First attitude is king. And that, I think, is the key for us, at least for today: who or what is king over our lives? Who or what rules supreme in our lives? To whom or to what do we owe our ultimate allegiance?
Jeremiah 23: 1 – 6
Canticle 16 or Psalm 46
Colossians 1: 11 – 20
Luke 23: 33 – 43
Those of you who have been on retreat with me in the past, or heard me preach, especially at Emery House, will know that I frequently go back to the same starting point over and again. I often begin with what is my favourite collect, the collect for the Second Sunday after Christmas:
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Christ the King Sunday
Daniel 7:9 -10, 13 -14
Rev. 1:4b -8
John 18:33 -37
Today is Christ the King Sunday, the very last Sunday of the Christian year. Which means that, ready or not, next week is Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of the year. This last Sunday draws our attention to the last things, the end times, the vision of the consummation and renewal of all things.
One of the chief images of this vision of the end times is Christ the King. King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lamb upon his throne in the Book of Revelation: “Crown him with many crowns…”
But what kind of king is this, who was born in a stable, lain in a manger, worked in a carpentry shop, washed people’s feet and then died on a cross? The Roman imperial authority, Pontius Pilate, would have entered Jerusalem in great pomp and display of military power, entering from the west, having come up from King Herod’s lavish port city of Caesarea, most likely riding a magnificent horse.The King of Kings came up from the east, through the barren splendor of the Judean desert and up and over the Mount of Olives—riding a donkey.