Proper 29 (RCL) The Reign of Christ
Jeremiah 23:1-6;Canticle 16 (Luke 1:68-79);Colossians 1:11-20;Luke 23:33-43
The title may not sound familiar -- The Reign of Christ. This Sunday, to my recollection, had been known as Christ the King Sunday, or even The Feast of Christ the King.
Pondering over the different titles the past few days, The Reign of Christ feels so right to me. Living in a country which has never had a King I would first have to grasp that altered reality. In theory that should be simple. There was a time when Kings did rule their own patch of the world. Most of the hymns describing Christ as King came from a time when Kings had the only say. All of these kingly hymns rang in my mind one after the other while I could recall only one which starts off the bat with the theme of the reign of Christ. Can anyone 'Name That Tune'? [wait] Yes! "Jesus shall reign where ere the sun shall its appointed journey run." Bingo!
The historical reality is, however, that no one king has ever ruled the world. Christianity has never had a corner on the world market. There have been thousands of kings who never believed in Christ. And although there have been amazing people spreading the Good News in Christ in wonderful ways across the globe, Christ's name has just as often been besmirched by atrocities committed by men during so-called Holy Wars. In that light, WHO would want Christ to reign over every thing?
[Speaking slowly, intentionally] Setting aside the mistakes of our fore bearers for just a moment, in this time, in this space, in this place, in our own minds and hearts, can we IMAGINE a world, even our country, our states, our counties and parishes, our cities, towns, villages, hamlets -- under the Reign of our Sovereign, Christ? [take an uncomfortably long pause here].
It is, I admit, hard for me to imagine this occurring on this side of life. So many people, so many obstacles -- all man made. That being said, I have been blessed to see glimpses of Christ on earth in just, honorable, loving people. Perhaps this is the way that Christ can reign -- by winning over hearts (one at a time) with a comprehensive plan of love, justice, order, equality, compassion, humility and transparent honesty.
With that in mind I CAN begin faintly to consider how my life would be changed so that both my inner being and my outer being were fully God's. If I handed over decisions and disputes, struggles and misunderstandings to God the just arbiter. I can imagine my frame would look a bit different if I were -- to my face -- commanded to treat my body as a temple. For sure and certain, THIS temple would have some renovations made to it!
It is particularly fitting to talk about the reign of Christ just before we start the new liturgical year when we, during Advent, will pave a way of hope and anticipation for the King to be born in our hearts once again.
Some dioceses throughout the land also consider this Sunday Recovery Sunday. A day when the church can give thanks for all those persons with addictions who have turned their lives, decisions, recollections, forgiveness, amendments and resolutions to God.
Perhaps those on the road to recovery after the bondage of addiction have, with joy, already had some insight into what the reign of Christ would look and feel like because they have turned themselves and their lives over to that Higher Power already...and continue to do so every day, one day at a time.
There is one way of imagining how life under the reign of Christ would be. We can behave as if it has already taken place. We don't have to wait for our neighbors or families or towns or counties/parishes, states, this or ANY nation adopts a righteous policy platform. We can just go about doing it. If enough of us are living our lives this way...GEE...it may become a movement, a renewal, a mighty force that will challenge the status quo and need to be reckoned with. This reign of Christ could be accepted by all peoples, at least in principle, and established.
Until then, you've been given a spiritual seed of faith, hope and imagination to plant before the earth grows cold or the soil becomes hard. You can plant it and let it rest and grow below your consciousness. The time will come when the seed will pop forth from its shell and eventually bear fruit. In the meantime we may say expectantly Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus; we await the Reign of Christ on Earth and in Heaven. Amen.