A reflection on Christ the King, Last Pentecost: Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1: 46-8;John 18: 33-37 by The Rev. Sarah Rogers
‘My Kingdom is not of 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 here.’ (John 18:36).
Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Jesus is about to go to his death, hailed as King of the Jews, Pilate and Caiaphas have both disowned him. Only a penitent thief on the cross beside him will acknowledge his sovereignty.
When he comes in just a few weeks time as a baby, the manger will be ready, lined with soft hay waiting to receive him. He will be welcomed with carols and gifts. A humble birth in a stable.
But today we welcome him as King, but are we ready? How do we welcome our King? I am never quite sure, I find it difficult to conjure up a picture of Jesus reigning in heaven. The traditional picture we have of a monarch clothed in fine robes, seated on a magnificent throne, never quite fits – perhaps that is just a British view of a monarch. I find it difficult to reconcile that image with the image of Jesus on the cross. I think this poem sums things up:
King of my life, I crown thee now,
Thine shall the glory be.
Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary,
Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget thine agony,
Lest I forget thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.
(Jenny Evelyn Hussey).
I cannot separate the crucified God from the King, Jesus reigns from the cross. At this time of year our minds are often drawn towards those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Christmas is approaching, and this week America celebrates Thanksgiving, both are times when families gather together, to share a meal, to exchange gifts and just to spend time together. So many don’t have that, and so I am drawn back to Jesus, crucified. That image of the ultimate suffering, and all for our sake.
Jesus reigns here and now, he is to be found in the homeless, the poor, the sick, the bereaved, indeed all those whose suffering mirrors his own suffering on the cross.
Jesus cannot truly reign until there is no more sorrow or suffering. Although for those who rest in Christ the kingdom has come, for those of us here on earth, we must still work towards the kingdom. As we sit down with our families and friends and celebrate, we remember the struggles of those who have gone before us. Those who have fought and are still fighting for equality of all people, those who fought against slavery, those who won the right for women to vote, those who fight for all of the marginalised groups.
Being a Christian is not easy in today’s increasingly secular society, and yet Christianity persists and will continue to persist. It persists because the crucified God reigns, wherever there is suffering. So, the kingdom is come, Christ reigns through us, whoever we are, regardless of our gender, race, colour, ability. Christ reigns through us as we minister to him when and wherever we find him in those who are in distress and suffering.