Summary: Throughout the Church Year, and throughout our lives, Christ shines as our Savior and our King!
Christ is the King of All Seasons
Today the Church celebrates Christ the King Sunday. This last Sunday in our liturgical year provides us an opportunity to acknowledge Christ as King of our lives, and to see our King in all his glory. Our first reading today takes us into the book of Daniel. God’s people were facing terrible oppression and suffering they thought would never end. Daniel’s vision shows the people that God, the “Ancient One,” is still ruling, and that their suffering will come to an end. God’s dominion is from everlasting to everlasting, and God’s kingdom will never pass away. Daniel spoke a word of hope to God’s people, the word that God has not and will not abandon God’s people. These words gave them strength to endure their hardship and suffering.
This theme is echoed in today’s second reading. These words are used in the opening dialog of our Service of the Word, and serve as a summary theme to the Book of Revelation. "Grace & peace to you from the one who is and who was and who is to come..." God’s reign spans the length of time. From before time existed until time is no more, our God reigns. What powerful imagery! These words bring hope that no matter what suffering we face, no matter how hopeless our situation, God is still in control, watching over us and guiding our feet into the way of peace. These words call us to face the future boldly, as we place our trust and, indeed, our very lives into the hands of the one who controls past, present, and future.
Our Gospel reading gives us a glimpse of our great King coming into his glory. As the scene opens, Pilate is questioning Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" In his response, Jesus states, "My kingdom is not from this world." Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see examples of Jesus living differently than those around him. He calls children blessed, bringing them near to him when others would shoo them away. He appreciates a poor widow’s offering more than what the rich can offer. He has compassion on lepers and other outcasts when his society ignores them. Jesus showed us what God’s heart is about: caring for all people equally and striving against the "everybody does it" of society. And, ultimately, Jesus’ highest moment of glory on the earth comes when he is lifted up on the cross, freely offering his life for us. Jesus’ kingdom is nothing like this world has ever seen.
The seasons of the church year help us to refocus on what should be most important in our lives: who God is, what God is about and our calling to be the people of God in the world. Each season provides us with a different picture of Jesus. Each season shows us a different face of Christ as the Ruler of all.
During the season of Advent we prepare for the coming of Christ. The scripture readings speak first of God coming to earth in human form, and we prepare for the coming of the babe in the manger. The readings also speak of Christ’s return at the end of time, in judgment and glory. In light of these readings, we continually prepare to meet our Lord. We seek to live our lives accordingly, doing nothing we wouldn’t want to be caught doing, or, rearranging our priorities to reflect what God considers important. The Advent season is also a time of preparation for Christmas, where we pray "let every heart prepare him room." It is a time when we all look forward in hope: hope of a promise to be fulfilled, hope of a future restored, hope for the life to come.
The Christmas season is a season often ignored. Lasting from one to two weeks, it comes at a time when many of the world are ready to be done with the Holiday. In the church’s Christmas season, we remember why Jesus came as he did, as a human child. He came to redeem all of humanity from its sinful ways and the punishment we earn. Many preachers comment during the Christmas season that there cannot be a manger without a cross, and there cannot be a cross without a manger. Jesus was born to die. Even as we gaze on the child in the manger, we must know he came for a purpose: our salvation. We remember, too, during the Christmas season that we have been named and claimed for a purpose: to be the beloved children of God in this world of sin.
The season of Epiphany is marked by the magi following the star to Bethlehem, in search of a leader, a savior, a king. The dominant image of Epiphany is light. Even the word "epiphany" means "shining forth" and in this season, we witness to the light of Christ shining into our darkness. This season focuses on Jesus’ miracles and how God dwells among us. We realize that we do dwell in darkness, that our habits and our nature drives us to darkness and evil. We cannot be left to ourselves because we cling to that darkness. Christ shines in our world to cast out all darkness and evil. Christ enables us to turn away from our sin and have hope, in spite of the world around us. This season ends with Jesus on the mount, being transformed before the eyes of his followers. Once again shrouded in light, Jesus reveals his power and purpose in the world. Christ is the victor over sin, death and the power of the devil; thus we look to the light of Christ in the world.