Both/And : a sermon for Christ the King
I wonder if you’ve ever been in West Quay or some other public place when some celebrity or other is making an appearance, or signing a book. Or perhaps you’ve been part of a crowd at a concert or a sporting event, or even a royal visit or parade.
There’s something about celebrity, authority, influence that draws us in, makes us want to be close, to jostle for proximity , to get a signature or have even have a conversation with the person.
In a work situation we’ve all been or seen those who linger after meetings, hanging around for a word with the boss, hoping that we might gain something to our advantage.
Today in the Church we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King,
A day when we can focus on Christ as the final authority, the King in Glory, Lord of all the earth.
It’s the final Sunday of the Church’s year – and reflects that culmination of all that has gone before – the birth, the ministry the death & resurrection, the growth of the church ;and we are reminded of what ultimately Jesus is, becomes, King. King of all of everyone of everything.
A King with the power of judgement, of understanding, of oversight.
In our reading from Ephesians we are reminded that he is above all things, in authority over all powers , all people, that God’s great power that raised him from the dead works in and through him. Such amazing authority.
On a day like today we could be forgiven for thinking that Christ as King is distant from us, that he stands only in judgement, in authority and power.
But just as today we remember Jesus as king in glory, we also recall the thing that is different – that makes him so different from any human king or leader or boss;
He is not an unapproachable King, or one who is detached and remote,
He’s not someone we can only aspire to be in relationship with, to know or be known by as we might with a human authority figure.
Because the same Jesus who is King of all the earth,
was also the baby in a manger, whose arrival we begin already to anticipate in the coming weeks
He is King and he is Immanuel – God with us
He is Lord of all and he is our brother.
He is Judge of the world, and he is Jesus; God come among us, Word made flesh, walking with us.
He is human, and he is almighty God.
And because of both these things, because of his death, and the resurrection by God’s mighty power as Paul puts it,
we can be close to him, without queuing or jostling or hanging round at the water fountain.
We are known and we know because he is both human and divine.
In being both King of all and human he ushered in the start of a kingdom that is like no other.
The Kingdom of Jesus is no ordinary hierarchical structure – despite being called a Kingdom, and having a King.
The Kingdom of God, of Jesus the King, is built on the radical foundation that a King can become the simplest most vulnerable member of his own Kingdom
The Kingdom is upside down, topsy turvy
The idea of what authority and power mean are challenged
In the Kingdom of Jesus, they mean being merciful and inclusive, welcoming all and turning no one away. They mean paying the late comers the same as the all dayers, and forgiving the son who ran off with the money.
They mean inviting everyone to the party, and making them all part of the family.
The power & authority in the Kingdom of Jesus lies in putting it all down, giving it all up – being prepared to be last even when you could have been first. They lie in death first, then resurrection. They lie in the manger, the cross and the empty tomb.
Leadership here is about letting go of what you want, and walking with those you lead, understanding what they need.
Love and care here is for everyone, recognising the greatest in the least, and the least in the greatest, understanding that what we do we do for everyone – including the King
These are the values on which the Kingdom of Jesus is built.
The values on which that illustration of judgement are based.
What ever you do for the least, you do for him because He *is* the least.
They are not simply representative – Jesus became human, he became poor and hungry, naked and imprisoned.
Everyone is made in his image, because he became like us.
Today we are reminded that Christ is King, with all the authority of God, all the power and all the strength, King of heaven & King of our lives, yesterday, today and forever.
but in the amazing way of the Kingdom, he is human, alongside us, walking with us,
In the weeks ahead we anticipate that closeness, that presence as we wait for his coming as a human baby,
And we look too to his coming as Christ the King in Glory at the end of time as we know it., when we too shall be in glory with our King.
Both/ And, King and brother, Lord and baby
God with us, God for us
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords – Hallelujah! Amen