I wonder what the word king makes you think of? Probably a man with a crown. A regal image. Perhaps you are thinking of a particular king in our country’s recent past. Either way, it’s hard for us to do when a queen has sat on the throne of this nation for such a long time. It’s harder still to engae with the image that this morning’s gospel presents us with, as 21st century kingship is mostly a nominal power, and couldn’t be further from the reality of authority running through images of kingship from the world and time of Jesus.
is the Feast of Christ the King and my mind is whisked back to that
wonderful hymn - ‘O worship the king, all glorious above.’ This is the
king that we will sing our way through Advent about and whose gaze meets
ours in a galaxy of icons and religious images.
of those sorts of kings are present in our Gospel reading this morning.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
then he will sit on the throne of his glory. This is the court of
judgement ...the place where we will hear our final destiny...truly a
place of awe. But if we wish to live as citizens of his kingdom in the
meantime, what does it mean for Christ to be King?
To live in a
kingdom is about far more than standing to wonder at the majesty of the
king as he makes his grand entrance...and we may be in real danger of
missing the heart of it, Jesus reminds us this morning.
an easy mistake to make – one that we hear about again and again in the
gospels. Think of the Wise Men, eyes fixed on the star, dazzled by its
brightness into calling at the obvious place – the royal palace of Herod
– while the king they seek, is born in the poverty of a stable. Think
of the Palm Sunday crowds who seem to speak prophetic truth as they
shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” but whose expectations of uprising
and God-led triumph are disappointed by the events of Good Friday. Then
think of the ways in which Jesus chooses to explain what the kingdom is
like – a mustard seed, a hidden treasure, some leaven mixed with dough -
and remember just how close king and kingdom really are... and
realising that Christ the King, however glorious, is always to be found
in the least likely places - with the naked, the hungry, the prisoner,
the stranger, the sick or the thirsty, for it is they, says Jesus, that
are blessed by God. Suddenly the question of judgement and choices
comes close to home...as we realise that it is our judgements, our
choices now, today how we react to others, that will make all the
difference. And those judgements, those choices, will be governed by
our allegiance – to Christ the king.
To live as a
citizen of the Kingdom of God, means you and me, living by the standard
set for us by Christ the King - Christ, who chooses to spend his time
with the marginalised, the oppressed, the forgotten. Christ who is
utterly committed to those whom nobody values, nobody respects. Christ
who identifies himself so completely with “the least of these” that when
we look at them, we know we are seeing him too.
love Christ, to dwell as a citizen of His kingdom, is to love what He
has made - men, women and children however broken and needy - the sick,
the thirsty, the hungry, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned - to love
such as these is to live and love like the King; it is to love the one
in whose image we are each made.
The German pastor and
concentration camp resident Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote ‘How may
Christ take form among us today and here?’ It is by modelling the
example of Christ our King - by loving and loving again. We may not
notice, we may not realise that we are loving and serving Christ, and
the parable Jesus tells offers a wonderful surprise for those who in
love served the downtrodden in society, also served the king.
love like this is to love Christ - but we are clearly warned - not to
love, to walk by on the other side, to condemn, to exclude, is to deny
Christ, to walk past Him, to condemn Him, to exclude Him...
Peter Rollins says it all...
There is just one commandment, the commandment of love, and real love is
always manifested in action. And, when it comes down to it, it is living
lives of love that will build the kingdom of God here on earth.
We aren't asked to decide who might be sheep or goats...that is down to
the King to decide. All we are asked to do is to carry on loving –
wildly, indiscriminately, just as Christ our King does.