The true and faithful king

Watching for the morning of November 17

Christ the King:
Proper 29 / Lectionary 34

Português: Estátua do Cisto Rei em Almada.

Português: Estátua do Cisto Rei em Almada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(In our parish this year we are anticipating the celebration of Christ the King in order to have a Sunday of Thanksgiving on November 24th.)

The Feast of Christ the King – or The Reign of Christ – is the final Sunday of the church year.  Although there is resistance to the language of kingship among some because of the dangers and destructiveness of patriarchy, there is something archetypal in the image of the just and faithful ruler who brings order and peace to the world.  All human dominion is measured by the dominion of Christ, who frees rather than binds, and lays down his life for his people.

In an era of human history when we have seen tyrannies of incomprehensible destructiveness and death, this crowning Sunday of the church year reminds us of the world’s one, true and righteous king.

Jeremiah speaks God’s word of judgment upon the corrupt leadership leading Judah into destruction at the hands of Babylon, and promises that God will gather the scattered people, providing them a king from the house of David who will bring justice and righteousness.  The psalmist proclaims the God who governs the nations and “makes wars cease to the end of the earth.” In one of the most exquisite passages of Scripture, the author of Colossians rejoices in Christ Jesus, in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things,” who “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  And finally on Sunday we will hear again the words from the cross “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing,” and witness the earth’s true king grant a royal pardon to the thief on the cross: “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

The Prayer for Christ the King, 2013

O God who reigns as Lord of all,
creating and sustaining the universe,
and drawing all things to your eternal embrace,
pour out your Holy Spirit upon us who gather here,
that pondering the mystery of the cross and resurrection of your Son Jesus,
we may be met by him who is our true Lord and King;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Texts for Christ the King, 2013

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
“Woe to the shepherds
who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” – As the nation spirals towards destruction by rebelling against Babylon, God speaks a word of judgment upon the leaders of the people and declares that he will gather his scattered people and give them a righteous king of the house of David.

Psalmody: Psalm 46
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble… He makes wars cease to the end of the earth.” – A hymn celebrating the reign of God who overcomes the chaotic forces of nature and the warring tumult of human history.

Second Reading: Colossians 1:11-20
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or power.” –
 We have been reclaimed from the dominion of death and brought under the reign of Christ in whom and for whom all things exist.

Gospel: Luke 23:33-43
“One of the criminals
who were hanged there…said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” – Jesus crucified is degraded by the governing elite as powerless to save, but one of those crucified with him puts his faith in him.”

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