Christ the King 22 November 2020
Sermon by Revd Caroline Risdon
Let us pray…
Loving God we give you thanks for the gift of your word, the grace of the sacrament and the fellowship of your people. Amen.
Next week is Advent Sunday, which acts as the start of the new Church Year and Calendar. We start this New Year with hope for the coming Messiah- as we retell the story of Jesus coming into the world as a baby. As we journey through the Church year, we will hear again the stories of Jesus’ life: his ministry and teaching, his death and resurrection, his ascension.
And that cycle comes to an end today, with the Feast of Christ the King. This feast was adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in 1925 to remind the increasingly secular society that Christ is in fact the King of the Church and of each of us. It was meant to be a reminder to the world of the innate freedom of the Church, and of God’s people, from the constraints of the world.
And what a timely reminder that is- when we see the political, social and economic turmoil of countries around the world, including our own. It is impossible to separate the year 2020 from the COVID19 pandemic, the repercussions of which we will be living with for many years to come. Yet, in the midst of these turbulent times, the Church pauses to remember the sovereignty of Jesus.
Over the past few weeks, we have been thinking about the ultimate coming of the Kingdom of God. Our gospel readings have described that when the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness, it comes both in judgment as well as salvation. Last week I spoke about judgement, reminding us that with God mercy always comes first. And because God is merciful, judgement flows from that as a necessary part of how it is to live in relationship with God. Our imperfections are laid bare in the presence of God’s perfection. We are given a true understanding of ourselves.
This self-awareness is not meant to be used as a tool with which to torture ourselves. What is important is what we do with our awareness- awareness both of God’s mercy; and of our gifts and short-comings.
Today's gospel reading helps us. We are required by God to give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty; to welcome strangers and clothe the naked; to visit those in prison and care for the sick. In and through these acts of mercy and love towards our neighbours, we show our awareness of God’s mercy and love for us.
So what exactly does this show us about the Kingship of Christ? Well, it is Kingship unlike any other we have known before. Jesus, our King, is the one who kneels to wash the feet of his disciples, who eats with the outcasts, who is friends with the unclean. And following Jesus, our King, is a choice. There are no acts of threat or control or extortion. The reign of Jesus, our King, is one of liberation and mercy, not fear and control.
To me, it is all summed up in that precious word Emmanuel- God is with us. To those who are displaced, persecuted, fleeing for safety; God is with us. To those who are hungry, naked, imprisoned, and ill; God is with us.
How are we to know, practically, daily, that God is with us? It is through the ministry of each of us. As St Teresa of Avila so wonderfully wrote:
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.