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