Christ the King Sunday

November 25, 2018


Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year. This is a Sunday when we celebrate together the reign of our king, Jesus the Christ.

As an American I think a Sunday such as today can be hard to know what to do with, for I don’t have an earthly king to base such feelings of thankfulness upon.  In fact, as a rule, Americans do not care for the idea of royalty, except as fashion divas, and cute princes.

Our revolutionary war was fought to establish ourselves as a people of democracy rather than autocracy under the rule of a monarch.  One person having such power over others goes against our ideals.  Americans can have a hard enough time with a president, nonetheless a king.

Americans are immigrants, and so, many of our ancestors fled from the tyranny of a despotic king or dictator in some part of the world to a place of hoped for freedom.  You might say, Americans as a people are refugees from the world’s kings, queens, dictators and generals.  We don’t look kindly upon non-representative rule.

Norway is not far from us though, when Norway finally threw off the yoke of the Swedish king, their new king, crowned without power, was only willing to come and reign, if the Norwegian people voted, “yes” to his coronation.  As we know, the democratically elected leaders hold the power in this land, never forgetting what it was to be under Danish, and then Swedish rule.

And yet here we are today gathered to praise a king.

So to help us understand how to do this let’s look for a moment at what a Monarch at his or her best should be all about.  A king should be all about his people, watching out for their well being in all general matters of life.  Do the people have enough to eat, shelter for themselves and their livestock and care when they are sick?  King Wencelas of Bohemia, yes the very same of whom we sing in the Christmas carol, gave shelter to the sick of his realm, bought children out of slavery so as they could live freely and reportedly even brought wood to the poor on winter nights so that they might stay warm.  Truly, Wencelas was a king with a heart for his people.

A queen must guard and protect her people, from all enemies and danger.  This last week marked the anniversaries of the ascension to the throne of Queen Elizabeth the 1st and Queen Victoria, both of England.  Elizabeth led England in her fight, when it was threatened by the ships of the Spanish Armada, and Victoria’s navy ruled the world’s seas protecting the British Isles and their people.

A king should lead his people well in peace providing for their spiritual needs.

King Solomon built the temple of the Lord for the Israelites in their time of peace.  He gave the Israelites a central place to worship and praise God, something that unified them as a people.

You see ideally a Monarch should be about the well-being of their people, having them as their first priority.  Yet as we so well know that is usually not the case.  To tell the truth as I sat at my computer writing this sermon, I had an awful hard time coming up with examples of monarchs whom have acted at times with their people as a priority.  It was Nero and Calygula, Henry the VIII and Louis the XVI, Herod and Ahab and Jezebel that more easily came to mind, despotic rulers whom were cruel or simply didn’t care for those whom they ruled.  And even the ones whom I chose had their problems.  King Wencelas had Christ in mind while he ruled, but because he ruled with a gentle hand rather than an iron fist, he met his end by an assassin on the steps of a cathedral.  And Elizabeth and Victoria ruled at the beginning and near the end of the British Empire’s subjugation and brutal rule of millions of people.  And dear old Solomon the wise used forced labor to build his temple, married a few too many times and then built altars of worship for the false gods of his non-Hebrew wives.  Thus raising the ire of God and bringing repercussions on the people of Israel.

It’s hard to have thoughts of a king that would inspire praise and adoration.

But let’s look at both sides of this question, what about the people under the rule of a monarch, how should they behave?  First they need to give obeisance to that king or queen by bowing respectfully before them as they sit upon their throne.  They give allegiance and praise by obeying their edicts and laws.  And in the old days they gave their whole lives over to the power of that ruler.  Quite a stretch from our democratic republics, eh?

And so here we are again wondering what to do with Christ the King Sunday.  Well before we despair, let us look at another king…namely Christ.

As Jesus shared with Pilate in today’s text, “My kingdom is not from this world.  If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

Jesus’ reign is not about doing it the way it’s always been done, but rather doing it the right way, in the manner of the kingdom of God.  And what way is that?  That is the way of love.  Our king is the one whom wrapped a towel around his waist and knelt at the feet of his disciples and washed their dirty, smelly feet the night before his death.  Our ruler was willing to cast out demons from the naked foreigner who lurked in the cemetery, be touched by the unclean lowly bleeding woman, eat with prostitutes, call the ruling religious leaders ‘white-washed tombs’, and forgive the bloody and dying thief facing capital punishment over on the next cross.

Our king’s first priority was the people, no excuse me, is the people.  Hey, it is for you and me that he was executed.  He was willing to face the electric chair of his day, the cross, for his people, tell me that that is not a king worth kneeling down before, nay, falling on one’s face before.  Christ the King, Savior and Lord.

How do we give allegiance to our King?   Know that when we kneel at the feet of one of our neighbors in service, maybe tying the shoelaces of someone who can’t do that anymore, we are kneeling as before the King.  Or helping to provide a meal for someone whose funds don’t stretch to cover all their needs, we are sitting down to eat as with our King.  Or speaking out on behalf of those who have no voice, who are left at the edge of society, we are speaking for the King.  And when we bow down to pray on behalf of all who need prayer, we are falling on our faces before the King, Christ the King.

You see, in the same way that Christ’s reign is unlike any other king of whom we know.  So too, is our life within his kingdom different than any other kingdom.  For rather than trying to achieve high places at his side, we are called to be servants in love to our brother or sister, our neighbor and the stranger on the road.  And it is in loving the rest of humanity that we are truly giving praise to our King and Lord.

Jesus is more than a good monarch, watching over his people making sure they are fed, sheltered, protected and allowed to worship.  No, more than all that Jesus gives us all that we shall ever need, and that is life itself, with him.  In his death, resurrection and ascension to heaven Jesus has provided for us in every way.

So on this day, let us praise our God and King, Jesus the Lord!  He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega.


Bible References

  • Daniel 7:9 - 10
  • Daniel 7:13 - 14
  • Revelation 1:4b - 8
  • John 18:33 - 37



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