St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Port Townsend, WA
November 25, 2012
The core act of faith for us as Christians, the most basic thing we do, is to trust that God’s world, revealed to us in Jesus, is the true one.
Many preachers have a love/hate relationship with this Sunday’s theme: “Christ the King.”It’s the church’s newest big feast day, instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as a way to combat secularism and nationalism. To remind the world that Christ is the only one who deserves our ultimate loyalty.
Since then, this day has been variously named “Christ the King,” the “Reign of Jesus Christ King of the Universe,” or (my favorite) the “Sunday of Doom” — an invention of some Swedish Lutherans to remind us not to get so excited about Christ’s Kingly glory that we forget the judgement implied in these Scriptural scenes of the end times.
A love/hate relationship with Christ the King, because we like having “our guy” on the throne. It’s fun to sing those exciting songs of triumph: O worship the king all glorious above. Praise my soul the king of heaven, to his feet my tribute bring. And, a childhood favorite of mine, Crown Him with Many Crows, the lamb upon his throne, hark how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
The nerdy part of me wondered how Jesus could possibly wear so many crowns at once (it seemed like one should be enough) but these songs capture the spirit we find in today’s readings from Daniel and Revelation.
Apocalyptic scenes, visions of the end times, when God and his Anointed King will rule the world with justice, when wars will end once and for all, when all nations will live in harmony, when hunger and abuse and fear and rejection and pain all will come to a final end. Lion and lamb will lie down together, God will wipe away every tear, we will eat and drink without price, at the wedding feast that lasts forever;
The earth will be renewed, rivers of life will flow through the valleys, with healing trees on every side. No hurt, no destruction, no lies, no worry, no disease, no stress. Even death itself comes to an end.
This reign of God is the desire of all our hearts. Deep down, beneath the scars and the illusions that this world has given us, deep at the heart of our souls, where the breath of God still lives. There lies this dream for a world made new. For our own life, made whole.