Well, I wonder how many of you have met the Queen. Or indeed any other head of state. For in a congregation that is as diverse as this one, we have people here from a variety of places – some from republics of various kinds, some from constitutional monarchies and some from states with forms of government that verge on the tyrannical. Some of us have always known some form of democracy. Others have come to this country seeking that form of government and the liberties that go with it. Some here want to change the way we are governed either by changing the configuration of the United Kingdom or by moving away from principles of hereditary succession and moving towards a system where the head of state is elected by the people.
And how seldom the church thinks about the different forms of rule that even the people gathered here will have encountered.
But I wonder how many of you have met the Queen.
The Feast of Christ the King is a bit of conundrum and quite tricky to preach on.
We often presume that the Feasts of the Christian Calendar have come to us from the mists of time, worked out long, long ago. But the reality about this feast day is that it dates back only to 1925 and was instituted for decidedly modern reasons by an Italian Roman Catholic church trying to stem the tide of secularism.
All of a sudden a Feast was created which emphasised the image of Christ the King. Now that image of Christ as King certainly existed before that but it was a novelty to make a festival out of the monarchical images of Christ that we can find in the Bible and focus on his kingliness and majesty.
We would be well to proceed with some caution with such a festival.
Not all the political movements in Europe in general and in Italy in particular in the 1920s were benign. We should be a little wary of a feast which seems to focus on something that is very political and all about God being seen in terms of power. Monarchy can’t be anything but political in one way or another these days.
But I wonder whether you’ve ever met the Queen. [Read more…]