Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CHRIST THE KING (Reign of Christ) 2016

Christ in Nails
The Revised Common Lectionary that has now been widely adopted across the world celebrates the last Sunday of the Church’s year as 'The Feast of Christ the King' (or 'The Reign of Christ'). Thirty years ago this feast would have been almost unknown to the Anglican Communion. Even for Roman Catholics it is not a very longstanding observation, being added to the Calendar as recently as 1925.
Yet celebrating Christ as King is an especially appropriate way to conclude the Christian year. Faithful observance of the Church Calendar enables those who follow it to live through the cosmic story of humanity’s salvation. We start out  languishing under judgement (Advent). In that condition God comes to dwell among us, and is made manifest to the world (Christmas and Epiphany). This incarnate God calls us to a time of repentance (Lent), but because of our own inability to save ourselves, comes in great love to die for our salvation (Passiontide and Good Friday). In a mighty and glorious demonstration of saving power, God raises Christ Jesus (Easter), and returns to the heavenly places (Ascension), while continuing to strengthen us with his Holy Spirit (Pentecost).
Christ in Silence - Odilon Redon
Reflecting on this narrative of salvation, we can see that, despite many appearances to the contrary, the God in whom necessarily ‘we live and move and have our being’, has given final authority over human kind to Jesus Christ. Yet, as the Gospel for this week so powerfully reminds us, Christ’s Kingdom signals a complete reversal of the values of worldly power that so evidently shape and influence our political life. Where the State relies on coercive power for its security, the path that Jesus pursues (to quote this week’s Epistle), is “making peace through the blood of his cross”.
In last year's lectionary, the Gospel text focussed on Christ as the supreme judge of 'sheep' and 'goats'.  This year, by contrast, we have a section of Luke's passion narrative. Jesus is truly “Christ the King”, but his 'throne', it turns out, is a place of torture, and his 'crown' is made of thorns. This casts a quite different light on what it means to pray sincerely for the coming of the Kingdom of God in Christ. Before doing so, we we must first grasp just how different it is to all worldly authorities – be they ancient empires, military dictatorships or modern democratic Republics. At times of political success and failure, it is hard to remember Mary's magnificat, that with the advent of Christ, God "casts down the mighty from their seats and exalts the humble and meek."

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