Archives: Christ the King

Standing Up for Where You’re Wrong

This gospel is always one of the hardest to deal with in a sermon for me, because it convicts me so deeply.

Jesus sets forth a very clear and simple standard for our lives as disciples, and I know how badly I’m failing at it.

Am I feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and welcoming the stranger every day?

Maybe if I stretch the interpretation and say that I’m feeding the spiritually hungry, I can give myself some cover.

But honestly, I’m a fundamentalist and a literalist about these types of texts, and I know the truth about my life.

Jesus in the gospels virtually never tells us what to believe.

He tells us what to do.

And what he tells us to do over and over again is to care for and empower the poor, the oppressed, and the most vulnerable in our society.

I fear that I’m not really doing that, at least not in any way that requires much sacrifice or initiative from me, and I doubt I’m alone in this room in that cringing realization.

Reading a text like this honestly, and facing up to the fact that we’re not doing what Jesus has asked of us—that is a painful, frustrating, guilty and helpless state of mind.

We call that state of mind “being convicted.”

It hurts so much that I started to ask: what is the value or the function of this feeling of conviction in our spiritual lives? Continue reading

Christ Belatedly Crowned King in 1925, Sources Say

I have been misinformed.

That’s nothing new, I get confused and mixed-up and proceed on the basis of faulty assumptions all the time, but it doesn’t often happen to me liturgically.

Most of the time I know what’s going on in terms of worship and liturgy, it is what I get paid for, after all, but I had the wrong end of the stick on this one.

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the church year.

I have always thought of Christ the King Sunday as an archaic feast.

It seems ancient, or at least medieval–old, anyway–to take an entire Sunday to talk about Christ as our Almighty King.

It would make sense that it comes from a time when most people who were Christians were in fact functioning in a system of government in which they were subjects of an actual, earthly king of some sort.

It makes sense that people who lived under a monarchy might need a reminder that there is a higher, more powerful king who trumps their current earthly king or queen, particularly if that earthly king or queen was oppressive or stupid or both.

But lo and behold, the Feast of Christ the King was not celebrated in the year 325 or 825 or 1125 or 1525.

The first time the church celebrated the Feast of Christ the King was 1925.

There’s still a lot of colonialism going on in 1925, but many, many Christians are living in democracies or locally governed tribal societies or even underground in communist regimes—fewer and fewer people had a king anymore.

So why celebrate Christ the King?

It turns out that the feast of Christ the King was declared by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an anti-nationalist, anti-secularist statement.

Now, consider what was happening in Europe in 1925.

Fascism and totalitarianism were on the rise. Continue reading

Striving for Sheephood, Stuck in Goatdom

I am always incredibly convicted by this story from Matthew 25 encouragingly called “The Judgment of the Nations.”

Any time I read the words “eternal punishment” attributed to Jesus, I get a little antsy.

It is probably not a coincidence that usually take my last vacation week of the year beginning on Christ the King Sunday every year.

What makes it so hard to hear is that Jesus is being really clear in this text.

He expects us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those in prison.

That is a very concrete set of tasks that do not need a whole lot of interpretation.

And I know I’m not living up to those tasks.

I feel rather goatish. Continue reading