All of the Scriptures for this week lead us to this Sunday, known as “Christ the King” Sunday. It is the final Sunday of our Lectionary year, the end of the season of Pentecost, when as the community of faith, we move through the season of building the church and its journey toward sanctification in the fullness of God’s Kingdom. The Sunday after next begins the season of Advent, when we will begin the whole cycle again.
But if you think that this is merely an annual repeating motion of the same thing over and over, think again. Our liturgical calendar invites us into an ongoing cycle of preparing, birthing, seeing, emptying, rebirth, and becoming, as we journey toward the fullness of the Kingdom of God, lived, as Rainer Maria Rilke said, in “ever widening circles”, reaching farther and farther beyond ourselves, encompassing all of Creation. Over the past few months, we have recounted the rich stories of the Old Testament through the eyes of many of the Prophets as they sought to illuminate what it was those early people of God were meant to become. And we once again read many of Jesus’ parables, this time from the Gospel According to Luke, those incredible stories of wisdom found in everyday life. The reason that we read these stories over and over again from Creation through the cycle of life is because, as we’ve said before, they are our story, they are the recounting of our own becoming who we are, they are our journey toward being the people of God. Perhaps it gives us more and more of a sense that we are not, as we might think, the center of the universe; rather, we are part of the story. Henry Van Dyke said that “if the meaning could be put into a sentence, there would be no need of telling the story,” so each liturgical cycle we tell our story.
This week is not the end. It is the beginning, a new beginning. The Gospel passage that the Lectionary assigns us this week probably feels a little odd. I mean, really, look around. The Christmas season is bombarding us from all sides (even though my Thanksgiving turkey has yet to be purchased!…yeah, I know…get on that, Shelli!) and we are reading a Good Friday passage. This is just messed up. But we read of a thief or a criminal (depending on your translation) hanging there with Jesus that asked for mercy from this one who in this moment he truly knew was the Christ. Jesus’ response did not include asking him what he had done with his life. He did not demand either a confession or a profession. There was no “if” attached to his answer—no condition of “if you clean up your life” or “if you promise to stop doing what you do or being who you are” or “if you become someone different so that you will fit in with what we think we are all supposed to look like”. None of that mattered. Because in this moment, the man that history has never named anything but “Thief” entered the story that we call the Gospel and was promised eternal life. THIS was Jesus’ crowning glory. THIS was the true coronation of Christ as King!
You see, it’s not about what we do or who we are. It’s about becoming the story, becoming the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s not about placing a crown on the head of our King but about becoming part of the Coronation, part of that image of Christ the King. It’s not about proclaiming Christ as King but about being the presence of Christ in this world. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, God with Us. And now we know that’s exactly where God is. It’s about entering the story.
Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began;
Love divine is reigning o’er us, binding all within its span.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife;
Joyful music leads us sunward, in the triumph song of life.
(Henry Van Dyke, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”, alt. st. 4, 1989)
Look, the light is just over the horizon. The world is with child. For this we were created. All we have to do is turn the page and follow the story.
What does it mean to you to proclaim Christ the King?
What does it mean to you to become part of the story?
Grace and Peace,
And now for some program notes…yes, I know it’s been too long since I’ve posted on “Dancing to God”, but I’ve promised that I would come back for Advent (and it’s been publicized in the church paper, so I have to stick with it!), so here’s a way for us to “turn the page” (aaarrrggghh….aaarrrggghhh…aaarrrggghhh). I’ll post some entries next week that will cover the Lectionary passages for the first Sunday in Advent and then beginning December 1, the first Sunday of Advent, we’ll do something every day. Thanks for joining me! Also, if you’re interested, my weekly Lectionary notes are posted on another blog that can be found at http://journeytopenuel.com/. I usually post those on Sunday evening or Monday morning for the following week. There is some overlap with this blog because I only have one brain, but I’d love for you to follow that one too! Shelli