Christ the King

Hear the Christians sing.

Crown him with many crowns! O worship the King all glorious above! Hail redeemer, King divine! Jesus Christ, superstar!

What is it with belief in Jesus which makes people sing out these things? The evidence of his life alone is not impressive. Born to a family on the run. Preached sermons for a few years that have been misunderstood ever since. Then a pathetic death by mob rule in Jerusalem. What kind of a king is this?
Something happened to the early Christians which made them sing. And sing of a king ? and not any old king, but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Why do God?s people sing of this King when all we know about him suggests that monarchy was far from his mind?

Indeed, is monarchy itself a suitable image for the holiness that is God. You would not think so if you read the papers at the moment.

Monarchy? These days, it seems an extraordinary idea for God?s people to impute onto their saviour.

Well, no less extraordinary for us than for the rabble who shouted Christ?s name through the streets of Jerusalem. They who called the one riding on a donkey their king. Their cries must have been heard by Pilate, leading to his incredulous question: ?You! Are you the King of the Jews?? It must have seemed as unlikely then as now.

Yet I stand here to proclaim a kingdom to you. And a kingdom of which Christ is the King.

A king who came to baptize monarchy with compassion.

A king who came to submerge our aspirations of grandeur beneath the smooth waters of grace

A king who plunges power itself into the deep and healing waters of love.

And what goes for Jesus, remember, goes for his people. What is part of the divine promise is promised for God?s people too. Living in God?s kingdom means to let go of power. Having aspirations of care and compassion, letting go of personal power and letting go of some of our mighty ambitions. Letting go of some of our striving and being held in the hand of God in return.

And we shall be changed. If these things happen, we and all the world shall be changed.

What else needs to be said about monarchy from a pulpit?

Well, monarchy rests on the idea that the office of King is more than person who holds the office. Monarchy demands that the human being takes on the mantle of hope and expectation which the wider community weave together. Monarchy is the acceptance of that role by an individual chosen by the randomness of birth. (Well, that is one way of seeing it). But the important thing is that there is a marked difference between the person and the office. The holder of the office is not at all the same as the institution itself. And the sufferings of the current royal family stem from inabilities to distinguish between the person and the power. Between prince and potential. The mysticism of monarchy (which Episcopalians have been quite keen on through the centuries) is squandered for the price of here today, gone tomorrow celebrity. Monarchy can only survive if there is an acceptance that despite appearances to the contrary, the person and the power are not the same thing.

This brings me back, this morning, to return to a theme that I have preached on once or twice recently. It is this ? ?things are not quite what they seem to be?. For those of us who worship in this kind of church, things are not quite the way they seem to be. Time, in church goes in circles. Things, to put it bluntly, have a cosmic dimension.

This is never more true that when we think of Jesus Christ as King.

For the child born in the manger, heralded by angels, worshipped by shepherds, discovered by wise ones. This was a king who was more than he must have seemed at the time. Here was a child who was not what he seemed to be.

Here in this place, we share in a meal of bread and wine and I spoke recently about how things are not what they seem ? for here, when we eat, we actually take bread and wine from the hand of the Lord in the upper room itself ? but wait! That is not all! We take the food as part of an altogether different feast too ? a royal feast. The feast of heaven is going on here in this place at one and the same time as the meal in the upper room. A feast which heralds a kingdom where all are fed ? fed spiritually and fed physically. Nourished and filled. Souls nurtured. Bellies full. That royal feast is proclaimed here on earth week by week, here in this place, and we go out to work to make it happen within the constraints of time and circumstance. Here in this place, things are not quite what they seem. Bread and wine, a royal feast for all.

Things, are not quite what they seem. And in closing, I want to ask you about something else ? not the child king born in the manger who was more than he seemed. Not the shared of food in the upper room who was more than the disciples could comprehend. Not the one hanged on a tree of shame who was then seen around and about a group of disciples who were then transfigured in his presence. No. I want to ask you about you.

About you yourself as you sit here in this church. Are you what you seem to be? Are you what others see?

All of us come to God as a bundle of contradictions. All of us come here wearing the opinions and expectations of others like badly fitting clothes. But I ask you. Are things what they seem for you?

Or are you in fact, despite appearances to the contrary perhaps, a beloved child of God.

For that is the claim, the outrageous claim of those of us who have followed Jesus from manger to tomb and beyond. Our claim is that things are not the way they seem. Our God is here. Knowable. At work in us as we make our way through this world.

As you sit here. Are you who you seem to be, or are you, as I am trying to suggest, Belov?d. Blessed. Holy?

For that is the claim of the Church through the ages. Proclaiming that kingdom.

That kingdom where all are already loved.


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