Christ the King?
We have made it to the end of another church year, and so finish our time in Luke’s Gospel. That means this Sunday is Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday. If I am honest, I really struggle with this title. It’s very male and quite European. I wonder how many of our preconceived ideas about “king” shape how we understand Christ as king, and whether we are able in any way to let the gospels define this for us?
Interestingly in our church here in Aotearoa – New Zealand this Sunday is Aotearoa Sunday – where we get to remember the long and hard story of the creation of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa. A solemn note to finish the year as we reflect on how our Eurocentric notions of what it means to be Christian have got in our way of living with compassion and generosity among nga iwi o Aotearoa. We have played king, with Christ the king made in our image.
In contrast we are offered the image of a crucified king by both Luke and the lectionary writers. The temptation is to jump away from this scene and to look elsewhere for what Christ’s kingship looks like. The New Testament scholar NT Wright comments: ‘At the heart of Luke’s picture of the cross is the mocking of Jesus as king of the Jews…Jesus has stood on its head the meaning of kingship, the meaning of the kingdom itself. He has celebrated with the wrong people, offered peace and hope to the wrong people, and warned the wrong people of God’s coming judgment’ (Luke for Everyone, p.284).
So, what does Christ the King mean for us today? AS we enter Advent, what does this image of the crucified king invite us to hold and look for?