Feast of Christ the King
Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14
I must confess that I find this feast, or at least the title of this feast, problematic. What are we to make, living as we do in a republic, with something call the Feast of Christ the King? In Canada, which is in fact a constitutional monarchy, and not a republic, this Sunday is now known as The Reign of Christ. Yet even there, images of royalty, inherited privilege, power, and immense wealth, raises hackles. At the same time, we see in the news how prime ministers are becoming more presidential, and presidents more imperial, as political power and authority become more localized and focused in one person, or office. It doesn’t help that the tabloids rely on people’s appetites for embarrassing tell all tales of the rich and privileged to maximize sales. All of this makes a feast dedicated to the kingship of anything, a complex and complicated proposition. Maybe it’s time simply to reclaim the Prayer Book tradition and refer to this Sunday as The Last Sunday after Pentecost, or The Sunday Next Before Advent, which is what we called it when I was growing up.
However, having said that, today’s feast is not a promotion of some kind of imperial portrait of King Jesus, although there are lots of pictures of Jesus crowned, seated on a throne, holding orb and sceptre, wearing imperial robes. Nor is today an attempt to advocate for some kind of divine right of kings (or presidents!) ruling from Pennsylvania Avenue or Buckingham Palace. Rather, today’s feast is an antidote to all of the images, real and fanciful, we associate with the word king. It is an antidote to King Anyone because the world has in fact never seen, except once, the kind of king we mean, when we speak of Christ the King.
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
Today is the Feast of Christ the King. The theme is “kingship.”
From the prophecy of Daniel, we read of one “like a human being” who comes with the clouds of heaven and to whom is given “dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.”
In the book of Revelation, John speaks of Jesus as “the Alpha and the Omega,” and “the ruler of the kings of the earth.”
In John, Pilate asks if Jesus is the King of the Jews, to which Jesus replies that “[his] kingdom is not from this world.” His followers do not need to defend him against his enemies and betrayers since his kingdom is “not from here.”
So, Jesus is a king, but in no sense that the world understands. What sort of a king is he, and what implications does his kingship have for 21st century Christians who no longer think in terms of kings and kingdoms?