A Special Sunday - Christ the King or The Reign of Christ Sunday
This Sunday is a special one, and the last Sunday of the Church year. Next week we begin the church year with the four Sundays of Advent.Because it is a special Sunday it comes with a few names: Christ the King Sunday, The Reign of Christ Sunday, and Stir Up Sunday. That last one apparently has something to do with reminding congregations to ‘stir up’ the Christmas pudding all ready for Christmas day. It is also about God stirring up our wills that we might get on with the work of the kingdom. So what might that be about?
We are offered a range of images of God’s kingdom in today’s readings. David offers us this image in his last words.
“One who rules over people justly,
ruling in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning,
like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land. “ (2 Samuel 23:3-4)
As we watch with horror at the images from Beirut and Paris over the last week this image seems so far away from our experience. Jesus words to Pilate, that his kingdom is not of this world seems all too true. How could Christ be king in this violent mess?
All four gospel writers write their gospels to show people that the true nature of the kingdom of God is only found in Jesus’ life and death. Each Sunday we pray “Your kingdom come on earth as in heaven.” The kingdom of God, the reign of Christ is all around us, it is just not governed by our notions of kingdom.
So as we finish this church year, I offer these two quotes for us to ponder.
“Of course, part of the challenge in all of this is the penchant to limit kingdom to location. This is when the “reign of Christ” is a helpful corrective for this festival Sunday, not just for the sake how we talk about Jesus and the titles we give to Jesus, but for the sake of realizing that Jesus’ kingdom is a state of being, a way to live, a commitment to a particular way to view the world.”
It is so good to celebrate the feast of Christ the king in the context of the passion. Obsession with power so easily 'rescues' Jesus (and God) from all of this and makes the resurrection the point of return to power from the embarrassment or the stunt of incarnation. The military Jesus makes an appearance quite soon and people forget kingship is a broken metaphor which has legitimacy only in its subversion. Our task is no less today to proclaim the kingdom of God, a kingship not of this world - but here and now.