True Kingship

This morning members of the 6 chapels I have care of gathered together in a single service. It is the end of my third month as their minister and I thought it right that we gather together for the Eucharist to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, the one whom we all worship in our various usual chapels. Despite the weather a good number managed to make it. We sang about 10 hymns in all, as well as here scripture read, consider its meaning for us, and share in Communion with one another. This is the sermon I preached. The readings were those set for today in the lectionary: Daniel 7.9-10,13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1.4b-8; John 18.33-37

+May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

I don’t know about you

but it strikes me

that our Gospel passage

this morning

sits oddly

with the rest

of the lectionary.

On this day in the Church year,

as we mark the end of one year

and anticipate

the beginning of the next

with Advent Sunday,

it has become Church tradition

to reflect on Christ the King,

to remember the Kingship of Christ

as we prepare

to once again

anticipate

his coming

both for the first

and for the second time.

In many ways

our Old and New Testament readings

are obvious choices

for a Sunday given over to Christ the King.

They are,

in some way,

about the King who comes in glory.

They are concerned

with the Son of Man,

Jesus Christ,

to whom be glory and dominion

forever.

In contrast

stands the reading from John’s Gospel.

I love John’s Gospel.

It’s my favourite Gospel,

even though I often struggle

with the picture of Jesus that it gives,

the picture of Jesus

who does not speak of the Kingdom

in parables,

and who doesn’t generally take the low-key option

and speak of himself

only as the Son of Man,

which can be translated,

simply,

as “human being”,

but who rather speaks with self confidence

about himself

as light,

and life,

and water,

and bread,

and resurrection,

and the way,

and the truth.

Yet here,

in this passage,

we find that other Jesus,

the Jesus of Matthew, Mark and Luke,

breaking through.

Here,

before the authoritative representative

of the might of Rome,

before the one who can,

in human terms,

save him from the death he is about to face,

the Jesus of John

speaks in more obscure ways.

There are a couple of translations

that have Jesus

accept

Pilate’s cue

to pronounce a further “I am…”

To Pilate’s “So you are a King?”

they have him answer,

“You are right.”

Yet I believe the more accurate translation

is what we have this morning.

You say that I am.”

Not a denial,

but no resounding agreement.

Instead,

Jesus talks about his kingdom,

which is not from here,

and that he has come

not to rule

but to reveal the truth.

And, of course,

our reading ends

just as Pilate opens his mouth

to retort,

“What is truth?”

Indeed, what is the truth?

What is the truth of the Kingship of Christ?

Well, as with so many things

in our Christian faith,

the truth calls us to hold things in tension.

Christ is the King,

he is the one

who has victory over death,

who has dominion over all,

who sits in glory on the throne,

who as the Word made the world,

who as the Judge will be the final arbitrator.

He is the one

to whom we give our lives

because is worthy of our everything.

Yet,

he is also

the Son of Man,

the one who comes to us as one of us,

so that at the end we might come to him

as one of his own.

He is also the Lamb,

who died so that we might have eternal life.

He is the one who knelt at his disciples’ feet

to wash them

and who cooked them breakfast on the lakeshore.

He is the one who gives himself in bread and wine

that we might have some

physical,

tangible way,

to encounter

the God

who is indescribable

and untouchable.

He is the one

who empties himself

of all but love

that we might have fullness of life.

He is the one who demonstrates his wealth

and his innocence,

by submitting to a life of poverty

and to the death of a criminal.

This then,

is the King to whom we offer our lives,

a King who does not command

but invites,

invites us to his table,

invites us to his share his life of service

to the least and the lost,

so that,

at the last,

all creation may share in his glory.

May, indeed,

all glory and honour and majesty and might

be unto him, forever and ever.

Amen.

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About MendipNomad

I'm a nomad both physically and denominationally, but I'll always call the Mendips home. Currently a Methodist Presbyter (Minister) in Cornwall. I love sport, film, tv, socialising, politics (both US and British), and, yes, being part of the church.
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One Response to True Kingship

  1. This was beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing!

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