Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Reign of Christ

This Sunday is the "Sunday Next Before Advent", or at least that’s what we used to call today. Now it is known as the "Reign of Christ" or "Christ the King" Sunday. It is a time for us to celebrate the regal images associated with Jesus. "King of kings," "lord of lords," that sort of thing.

On the one hand, it is easy for me to think of Jesus as vastly superior to me, as the one I hold on to as the king of my heart, the one whose rule I willingly and happily obey. And that’s quite fine with me. My mind does not think of the excesses, abuses and tyranny associated with earthly monarchy when I think of Jesus. Even though we often depict Jesus in art as wearing the robes of royalty his kingship is founded on an entirely different model. The kingdom of Jesus is founded upon love and justice, not power and deception.

There are some things I truly love about the Book of Common Prayer, such as the reciting of these words at every Eucharist:

OUR Lord Jesus Christ said: Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Heart, soul, mind and strength: in other words, with our whole being, we are to love God. But the quote doesn’t end there; it also calls on us to express our love of God by loving the people around us. An earthly king, I suspect, expects us to show our love of him by loving him. See how different the expectations are that Jesus has of us. We are to show our love of Jesus (Christ the king) by loving others.

That’s what we mean when we say "to show" in our parish vision, "To show the transforming love and justice of God in action."

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