This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday and marks the last Sunday of the church calendar year. Christ the King Sunday is the culmination of the Christian year and celebrates the church’s hope that Jesus Christ shall return again to establish his Kingdom forever. The hope of Christ’s second coming is a consummation of sorts. The courtship begins with the promises of the Old Testament which are veiled in poetic prophecies. The sincerity of those promises are pledged by the gift wrapped in Christmas’ swaddling cloths; that gift is Jesus. The promise of rescue which God accomplishes through Jesus Christ is realized during Holy Week and Easter Sunday. The resurrection inaugurates the betrothal of our salvation which Jesus has secured, and the promises of that salvation are applied by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Since then, the church continues to await her wedding day when the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, returns to take his bride, the church, to be with himself. And so, Christ the King Sunday speaks not only to a promised event and to an orthodox view (as the Creed says, “[I believe]…he ascended in heaven, from whence he shall come to judge the quick and dead“), but it speaks to the fulfillment of our deepest desire: to enjoy the full-peace, beauty, and goodness of the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This Sunday at GPC we will also begin a new sermon series entitled, The Jesse Tree, which will also serve as our Advent series. I will share more about the Jesse Tree next week. This Sunday we will be doing double-duty as we look at kingship and particularly at King David. The events recorded in 1 Samuel 16 and 17 show us that the kind of king we want is oftentimes not the kind of king we need. It is so important for us to recognize the differences. We want a mighty man, but we get a shepherd. We want our choice, but we need a man whom God choses. We want someone who will lead us in victory, but we get a man who is a go-between for us. We want a king who will straighten others out, but we get one who takes away our shame and disgrace.
What will help us grow in our faith is to see the kind of king Jesus Christ is. Over and over again God shows us that his ways are not our ways. We will always be quick to co-opt the Kingdom of God in order to enrich or advance our own kingdom. It never works. Those who do so are constantly disappointed and mystified. Eventually, they lose interest and move to more profitable deities. We however, must be ready to receive him when he comes to us. We must be ready to humble ourselves. In fact, Jesus tells us in the parable, that he does and has come to us and often in many little ways, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me'” (Matthew 25:35-36). As we await his final coming, let us not miss the many ways he comes to us daily.
Happy Christ the King Sunday! It is a festival day for us to feast on God’s grace. Enjoy feasting on his promises and our hope.
artwork: The Jesse Tree in the Lambeth Psalter, unknown English miniaturist, c.1140s