Christ The King

Last Sunday was dedicated to Christ the King. Pope Pius XI instituted The Feast of Christ the King in 1925 for the universal church. He connected the increasing denial of Christ as king to the rise of secularism and dictatorships throughout much of Europe when many began to doubt Christ's authority and existence, as well as the power of church members to continue Christ's authority.  It is placed on the Sunday before the four weeks of Advent because those weeks help us face up to the dissolution of earthly frameworks, to wars, terrorism, plague and migrations, climaxing in the birth of someone who is unnoticed by the world at large, who certainly does not come on the back of armies, economic or media moguls but before whom the three wise pagan astrologers (known to tradition as three kings from Iran, Ethiopia and India)  kneel, recognising through inward intimations and signs in the stars that this is a king in waiting.

Our world framework is changing in a fast and frightening way.  Isis, mass migration, Brexit, Donald Trump, climate crisis. Some thoughtful historians draw comparisons with 1930’s Germany when a majority of the people elected Hitler, or with the crumbling of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, which became known as The Dark Age. The establishments are experienced as out of touch with ordinary people and so they are knocked, even if the disciplines and skills which sustain civilised life also disappear. But we turn to people who are post-truth. Bragging and bullying and photo opportunities get more votes than listening, honesty and the royalty of honest service. 

So where do we turn?  This idea of God as king puts many people off. We’ve had enough of unelected royals living off the labour of others. My friend Randy Woodley, a part Cherokee American Indian scholar uses the phrase Earth Community for the Kingdom of God, for this chimes with oppressed and indigenous peoples' insight that the earth, all creatures, are one community when we follow the Harmony Way that is the Creator’s original intention for us. For people like Randy it is annoying of Jesus to refer to the Kingdom of God.

Yet in Jesus’ day the Emperor was the sign of colonial oppression. When the Jews used the word king they thought of the former Jewish kings, who were related to their people. Their ideal king gave the people justice and loved the poor; under him the mountains and hills flourished, Psalm 72:1-4.  In the New Testament Christ is called the First-born of all Creation.  This echoes Woodley’s insight of the Earth Community

The Gospel tells of the notice Jesus' prosecutor put up: ‘Jesus – the King of the Jews’, and then it tells how a convicted criminal cries out to him to remember him when he comes into his kingdom. That thief, at his point of extremity, sensed what self-satisfied arrogant people did not.

The king or queen remains a universal archetype that is in the genes and dreams of republicans and monarchists alike. This not only reveals itself in Netflix favourites such as The Game of Thrones, The Crown, but also in theatre and film such as The Lion King. In that film, when the young king regains the throne from his power-mad usurping uncle, he arranges the kingdom through love so that each animal is given the encouragement to reach their innate stature: the elephants wade and the birds fly each as they are meant to .This is the Earth Community – the kingdom of God indeed.

Can a defeated candidate, or a disappointed elector like ourselves have a royal calling? Think of the lion Aslan in the Narnia series of films. Sometimes absent - defeat, suffering, set-backs there were in plenty yet always the children knew that he was King

The King of Black Friday received infinitely more than a 21 gun salute. He received a salute from the sun, that eclipsed, and from the earth which quaked and threw up its dead in a foretaste of resurrection to come.

O King of the Friday Some fruit of the Tree of your Passion fall upon us today. 

Treat everyone as a royal soul this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted at 11:09am on 25th November 2019
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