Summary: All Christian agree that Christ is their king, but king of what? To many, humility and servitude smack of weakness, yet it is the true source of power, strength and authority, and this message today is not radiating from our churches.
This sermon was delivered at Holy Trinity, Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on Sunday the 20th November 2016; Holy Trinity is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
Please join me in a short prayer from Psalms 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.
Today is known in the liturgical calendar as the “Feast of Christ the King”, and every year that I do a sermon on this, I need to remind myself about what the “Feast of Christ the King”, is all about … and so this year I looked it up in Wikipedia, … and it said that “the feast was instituted by Pope Pius the 11th in 1925, for the universal church because of the increasing denial by secularism, of Jesus as our king, and the power it gave to the church authority”.
So we can see from this that the Christian church was having problems away back in 1925 … and this was made worse by the rise of non-Christian dictatorships in Europe … dictators who were strongly influencing the catholic church … and winning the people over … and by doing so, were asserting their authority over the Church.
And so, just as the Feast of “Corpus Christi” was instituted when devotion to the Eucharist was at a low point, the “Feast of Christ the King” was instituted during a time when respect for Christ and the Church was waning … and it was hoped that the feast would do three things: … first, it should help various nations see that the Church has the right to freedom, and … immunity from the state; … second, that national leaders and their people would show some kind of respect to Christ and the church; and third, … that the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feast, as we are reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, as King.
Where are we today?
That was away back in 1923 … so where are we today? Well, … as you know, the church does has immunity from the state, and every now and them the state may take even notice of the church, if it suits them; … secondly, I have great trouble believing dictators like Hitler, and Mussolini, and Franco, and Ceausescu and a whole host of despots … read their bibles and said their prayers before going to bed at night, and thirdly; … look the empty spaces in our church, I remember this place being full, … but it is not just our church, most churches are struggling with membership in this modern scientific age. An age where individualism is generally the norm, … and only the authority many people acknowledge is for themselves, … and that the idea of Christ as the ruler in their lives is beyond a joke. …. No, sorry for being so cynical here, but I am showing my disappointment that the universal church as a whole has lost, and is loosing much of its credibility in these modern years.
Many people believe in a republic.
And there are many reasons for this as we all know, … and we all have our theories all of which I am sure has a foundation … but one of these theories involves the fact that many people today believe in a republic, … why … because they do not like the idea of kings and queens and the whole system of monarchy … believing it to be obsolete and possibly oppressive. … So it becomes increasingly difficult to promote Jesus as the Lord and King in such a hostile environment, because the words "Lord" and "King" belong to a oppressive system of government.
Jesus is not an earthly king as we know them
And yes, many Lords and Kings over the years have been abusive, intimidating and oppressive, but people being people remember the bad monarchs long after they have forgotten the good monarchs, … however, and this is a big however, … what these people do not understand is the fact that the kingship of Jesus is not one of dictatorship, … but one of humility and service, and Jesus made this clear in John 18:36 when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world”, … which you could be translated, “the way I do things is not as the world would do them, my kingdom has a completely different order”.
And Jesus gives an example of this in Mark 10:42-45, familiar verses where he says … "You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over them. … But it shall not be so among you. … But whoever would be great among you must be your servant … and whoever wants to be first among you, must be the slave of everyone else. … For even the Son of Man, came not to be served, but to serve others, and to give his life as a ransom for many".