This Sunday, Christ the King, is probably one of my favorite, if not my favorite, Sundays of the year, because it’s a day that we as a church plant our flag in exactly what we believe. Today, on the last day of the Liturgical year, looking back at what we’ve already done, and looking forward at what is coming, we say “Christ is King.”
To make that claim, to say that Christ is King, that Christ is Lord, is to at least 3 things. “Christ is King” is a political statement, it’s a personal statement, and it’s a Cosmic statement.
Firstly, it is a political statement. Even in the first century, especially in the first century, and even now, to claim that Christ is Lord is to claim that he alone sits on the throne. No one else, no Caesar, no emperor, no president, no secretary general, is the ruler over our world or our lives, Christ alone is. Politics is not just about who holds the keys to war or the nuclear codes, or who has the power to drops bombs on people who can’t retaliate, politics is about how we structure society and how lives are arranged in spaces, who has access to what spaces, and how people are systematically organized throughout the world. And the Kingdom of God over which Christ reigns says that the poor and oppressed should be treated with the dignity they’re owed as people who bear the divine image, wherever and whoever on earth they are. The rule and reign of Christ the King sees Christ as the judge of all the nations, and takes their works into account, whether they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, welcomed the stranger, visited the prisoner, gave a drink to the thirsty; to judge, ultimately, whether his people saw themselves, saw their very lord and King in the faces of those who had nothing. When we claim Christ is King, this is what we’re saying.
To say Christ is King is also a personal statement. Christ is not just Lord over the nations, but Lord over our very lives. Christ did not come just to make us better people, but to make us new people, to raise us from the dead. In our baptisms this is what we’re saying. Christ becomes the Lord of our Life, the King of our life, when we take on the very death that he died and are raised to the resurrected new life that he himself lives. He’s given us a new community, a new way to be in the world, and in this way, the political dimension and the personal dimension are inextricably intertwined, linked. And Because of this, when we claim Christ as King, our lives ought to change, materially, noticeably change; caring for everything that Christ cares about, showing and sharing the love that has been shared with us. When we say Christ is King, both personally and politically, this is what we ought to be saying.
Lastly, to say that Chris is King is a undeniably cosmic statement. When I say cosmic I don’t necessarily mean “space and stars” and everything, “out there,”… I mean the whole of reality. Christ is Lord over everything, to say that that is a statement with Cosmic dimensions is to say it lays claim over every aspect of reality. Jesus Christ, the one whom God has “raised from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come, and has put all things under his feet and has made him head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all,” the savior of mankind, and our systems, the very commander of all creation, who even the wind and waves obey, who “sits upon his glorious throne with all the nations gathered before him,” is the same One, who, as Rev. Fleming Rutledge puts it, “at the very apex of his cosmic power, reveals that the universe turns upon a cup of water given to the littlest ones in his name.” That is our King.
When we say that Christ is King, we acknowledge Christ’s moving through and in the world as the only thing worth emulating, patterning our lives after. The One who would go to the cross and submit to the powers and principalities of this world, the ones who had no real power over him, but submit to them anyway, that is our King. The One who would rise up from the grave, shaming those power and principalities, and give us a new life, the only life worth having, in the face of a world that would claim otherwise, THAT is our King.
We’re lucky enough to have a pretty rare cross on our wall, here at St. Martins. It’s different from most crosses that we see in Churches. Most will either have no body on the cross, or will have the broken, battered, beaten Christ upon it, but here, we have Christ in full adornment of Eucharistic vestments. This cross is called the Christus Rex, or Christ the King Cross. It shows the paradoxical nature of the God who died and who rose up to give himself for us. It shows us that our God is our Great High Priest who can sympathize with us and with everyone, whose nature is not to fix every problem we have by waving his hand and making it all go away, but to be with us in our suffering and in our grief, to give us the sure hope of a future where every tear will be wiped away. It shows us the seemingly contradictory nature of a King who would stoop down to where we are, to be with us, to grant us new life, to show us how we ought to live.
So today, here at the end of the year, take some time to reflect with me on what it means for Christ to be King, politically, personally, and cosmically, and what that might be calling us to do, how Christ our King might be calling us to change. We’re moving into the advent season, a season rooted in watching, waiting, anticipating, hoping, for the return of Christ our King. The King who loves us and gave himself for us, the king who went to the grave and came back for us, who made us as we are and loves us as we are, and is coming once more to this earth to make all things new. All of that is coming, yes, so today we take a moment and plant our flag right where it ought to be, where reality dictates it be, and we say, full-throated and with every confidence in creation, “Christ IS King.”