Reflection for Sunday – November 20, 2016
Readings: 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1: 12-20; Luke 23-35-43
Preacher: Alice Miller Nation
It’s almost time to start again. Next weekend, we begin the new church year with the First Sunday of Advent. But, before we get there, we stop for a moment and remember Christ as our King. Today’s feast is called Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Until a few years ago, many of us remembered this feast as Christ the King. And, actually, as far as feasts go, it is relatively new. It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism. It’s funny, because not even 100 years later, secularism continues to be an issue in our society.
Because we are formed not only by our church, but also by our families and society, there are many reasons why the language of kingship can be problematic for 21st century Christians: for some, it might be the gender thing, others the whole notion of patriarchy. And it seems historically that Americans have had a distaste for monarchies in general (with the exception for our seemingly insatiable appetite for the latest goings on in the British Royal Family!) But no matter how we try to work around it, claiming Christ the King—Christ as King—is not only part of our historic tradition as Christians, it is a critical aspect of our prophetic future.
The question I invite us to consider is not, “How can we get around this Kingship stuff?” but rather, “Who is this King of Glory?” Is our relationship with this King something that is fed and nourished each week? For many, our relationship with Christ as our King is an everyday thing—some reflection and prayer at some point during the day…helping others as the opportunities arise…and generally trying to be a just person who shows and shares goodness by the way we treat others. And yet, the celebration of this feast is not simply encouragement to be better people, sharing our gifts and being good to others. The celebration of this feast is encouragement to do one thing: Make Christ the center of our lives.
The rule of God, the Kingship of Christ, is not about earthly power or political authority. It’s not about revenge or judgment. It’s about wholeness. It’s about all lands—all people, not just a chosen few who happen to think or look like us or socialize in similar circles. When we celebrate Christ the King, we’re holding up a king who is a reconciler, a redeemer, a servant. This is a king who came to show us how to live as a people of God in the Kingdom of God—fully aware that each of us is called to love one another in the same way Jesus, the King of the Universe loves each of us. And this call to love is a call to love all people, those we fear as well as those we love.
The kingship Jesus offered, the love he proclaimed, was too radical, too inclusive, too dangerous to the status quo to survive without a struggle, then and now. The King of Kings is strong and mighty, but the battle he is engaged in is not a battle over ideologies or land or who possesses what rights…it’s a battle over fear. It’s an ancient battle, this struggle between love and fear—one that we can see raging all around us these days. And yet, the promise is right before us…we have been given all we need, through the example of Jesus Christ, to win the battles that rage around us and in us.
We can live in isolation and fear or simply follow the rules in life and get by. Or, you and I can choose to live placing Christ at the center of our lives. When we do that, we allow the King of Kings to guide us, to bring us back when we are lost. We can choose to let God whisper to us messages of hope and healing. When we make Christ the center of our lives, rather than all those things that distract us, we allow God to heal our broken hearts and heal all that we just can’t seem to tackle on our own.
May each of us begin today, doing all that we do with the attitude of Christ. May it be obvious to those around us that things and events and details are no longer the center of our energies…but rather, our center, our wholeness comes from Jesus Christ, the King.