Summary: Sermon for Christ the King Sunday
From the first to the last, from the beginning to the end, we come today this Sunday, the last day of the year! Now I know that we could normally look upon the 31st December as the last day, but this is Christ the King, Sunday, it is the last of our lectionary year as next Sunday is the first in Advent, we approach with anticipation the waiting season, the watching season.
Today is the last Sunday of the year, it is indeed Christ the King Sunday and we look back on a year in reflection, when we have came to meet Jesus as a young boy in the synagogue, as the adult baptised by his cousin John and then his determined ministry, predestined by God, his father.
It is a year that we look back and see the Christ that has died for our sins, and he did die for our sins on the cross and yet, he is alive and reigns now and forever. This is the message of the gospel and one could almost quit here, announce the last hymn and go home. However, we are here to worship the King and to remind ourselves of his kingship as Luke’s gospel tells us.
What is a King? A divine ruler some will answer. A secular figure much like that of President or Prime Minister others will proclaim. It all depends on the constitution and tradition that you have been used too and brought up with. We have a sovereign, who is anointed by the Church, appointed by succession but she is not a political ruler, but her ancestors were – times have changed! We have a monarch who is almost secular in her function
Luke’s Gospel is a strange one to end the year on as far as the lectionary is concerned. The trip to Golgotha the place of Skulls, where Jesus is to be crucified, it is indeed strange that we should encounter Christ’s death just before we begin our watching and waiting, in Advent.
Of course, this passage refers to the Kingship of Christ, from the mocking of ‘save yourself’ to ‘truly he was the son of God,’ all of which surround the good news. Good news? Good news, they have killed our King?
If our monarch was killed, we would be in mourning, we would be angry and looking for justice, but instead we hear of Christ’s plight, being strung up beside two wrongdoers, one who repents and one who is facing death, continues to sin.
In some ways it’s like a parallel universe, a paradox, in some ways it’s like a comedy, two men, both one mocking the other begging – indeed it is the story of the whole of Jesus’ life being played out. Some believed, some denied, some repented, some continued to sin.
If we think of all the well tread parables that we have thumbed through the bible, we come to the conclusion surely that Jesus always had those whom he had to convince and those who despite everything he did, would never believe they would never come to him or to his Father.
I guess that’s like us in the Church, we have some who believe fervently and others who doubt. Put yourself in the picture of the gospel, which side would you have been on? Would you have sided with the sinner and constantly mocked Jesus, doubting him, testing him, giving up hope? Or would you have been with the other man, who sought redemption, who looked for forgiveness?
In many ways, then and now there are those who denied Christ’s Kingship and there are those who failed to comprehend what his kingship was. Some looked for signs, such as wealth and riches – this Jesus, our Jesus was the son of a carpenter. How could he be a King? They looked on the earthly chapter of his life, they looked for the material possessions, the trimmings that convinced them that he was King, just as a Pharaoh had power over people, vast wealth and prestige, our Lord had none of this.
People failed to realise that he was King, and that this Jesus, our Jesus, had the whole world in his hands, he was King of all creation, King of all Kings. Some came to realise this all too late, all too few understood.
A rich businessman had everything in the world that he could hope for, beautiful wife, money no object, businesses booming, fast cars and a family. What more could he want? He was lord and master over his empire!
Then there is the poor man, working all hours of the day and night, scrimping together just to provide a meal for his family and a roof over their heads, his kingdom was rented accommodation, his power was limited to his household. In wealth, in power and in position he was extremely poor and not worthy of an invite to the table for some.