Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Christ the King
November 23, 2014, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Sermons

Sermon preached at All Hallows, Easton, Sunday November 23, 2014

“God … raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

As the Church year draws to its close, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Actually, to call it that is a bit repetitious. Christ, or Messiah, means in effect “the Anointed King.” This is the feast of Jesus the King. At the beginning, the basic profession of faith was simply “Jesus is Lord,” Jesus is the One we acknowledge as the rightful Ruler of all. Earthly monarchs may claim authority, but insofar as they have any it comes from God, and where they abuse it our first loyalty is to Jesus the Messiah.

This is still true. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, and our first loyalty is to him. It is personal, not just acceptance of a set of doctrines or moral rules. Jesus, as the Creed says, has ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Every earthly power is by right subject to him, subject to his judgement. And he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. One day, every king, president, prime minister, parliamentarian- yes and every citizen, including you and me- will have to give an account of our stewardship.

Soon (not today!) we shall sing Charles Wesley’s Advent hymn: “Lo! He comes with clouds descending… Every eye shall now behold him Robed in dreadful majesty.” In today’s Gospel, we hear of the Son of Man coming in his glory to judge the nations. This is a part of the Christian faith we should never forget, and never let rulers forget. Those who have scorned Christ and neglected his Law will pay a price.

004 (2)All this is true: but when we remember as we should the awe-inspiring majesty of the Lord, we should also remember how Jesus achieved his kingship. Whenever we come into this church and look up, we see the image of Christ crucified. Jesus did not come into his kingdom by displays of military might or overwhelming power. He was born in poverty, lived in simplicity and died in ignominy. When we look at the crucifix, we see what the world does to God, what the world thinks of God. “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked; and those who ought to have known best replied, “We have no king but Caesar.”

And this is our comfort. When God came into the world, he did not identify himself with the rich and powerful and famous. He identified himself with the poor and weak and unknown. He still does. When he comes in judgement, he will not ask whether we believed and taught all the right doctrines (though we should do that); he will ask us how we behaved to the hungry and thirsty, to the stranger, to the needy and sick and rejected of this world. “What you did (or failed to do) for them, you did (or failed to do) for me.”

Christ is the one we serve in our fellow human beings; and Christ in us is the one who serves them. We are the church, the body of Christ. He is our head, but we are his hands and feet, his eyes and ears. That is why it is important for each and every Christian to keep Jesus always in view. He is our king; and he is our brother, our friend, our model. In the Gospel we see him as helper and healer: that shows us how we should act. We see him as the innocent sufferer, the one who laid down his life for us, to shock us out of our self-centredness, to enable us to re-connect with our heavenly Father, the source of all we have and are, to open ourselves to the life of God which is the Holy Spirit.

Christ is our King, and his blessed Mother is our Queen. She is the first and perfect disciple, who shows us what discipleship means. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word.” “Do whatever he tells you.” Pondering and keeping his word in her heart. Standing silently at the foot of the cross. Praying with the disciples in the upper room. Christ and Mary, the true Adam and the true Eve.

Jesus is the King of Love, the good shepherd whose goodness never fails. He is also the Lamb who was slain for us and is now enthroned with the Father. May he reign above all in our hearts, and may we sing his praise for ever. Amen.

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