Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christ the King

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?" Pilate replied, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate asked him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate asked him, "What is truth?"
-John 18:33-38

My wife read an essay on Fundamentalism today. One of the five main points of Christian Fundamentalism is belief in a 1000 year reign of Christ on earth with the saints following the second coming. She sent me an e-mail at work asking, "Do you believe in the 1000 year reign."

Of course, I couldn't give a simple answer like "no" to this but had to go into my understanding of the symbolism of revelation, the apocalyptic imagination of the Old Testament prophets and the meaning of the kingdom of God. Valiantly wading through all this, she pressed the question, "So in what way are we reigning now?"

I gave her my thoughts on the hiddenness of the kingdom and the lordship of Christ, but I have to admit that it's not a simple question. Then while I was at lunch it dawned on me that this Sunday is Christ the King Sunday. So many of you have probably also been contemplating this topic, right?

So, how do you view the reign of Christ, present and future?


P.S. (an after-thought) said...

I believe the quote, that the kingdom is not of this world. And I believe that we can take something literally and sincerely and still get it wrong, as the pharasees did many times.

Tom in Ontario said...

We proclaim Christ our king as he goes to the throne of the cross. We acclaim him as our ruler as he sheds his blood. We acknowledge him as our Lord as he gives himself to us in bread and cup. Christ is our king as he reigns from the tree, sharing our fears and experiencing our frailties. In the reign of God, the powerful one does not intimidate the weak, but cares for them. In the reign of God, the person of authority does not use others, but seeks them out and crowns them with mercy. (from Sundays & Seasons)

Tom in Ontario said...

Here's more.

Christ the King is a Johnny-come-lately to the schedule of festivals and observances on the church calendar. It has neither the biblical warrant of Easter nor the antiquity of the forty days of Lent. Christ the King Sunday is the invention of a twentieth-century pope, Pius XI. Yet Christ the King Sunday is on the calendars of all the Protestant churches that keep a church calendar. No doubt the appeal of the day is rooted in the need Pius XI saw in 1925. Europe was still reeling from World War I, and economic uncertainty abounded. People were bending the knee and doing obeisance to human saviors and political parties that promised to rescue them. Religion was increasingly relegated to the private sphere. In response to this, Pius XI called for an annual Sunday feast day to assert the "Kingship of our Savior." He called for a day on which people would gather to bend their knees to Christ and do obeisance to him as a witness to the day when every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth will bend to Christ and confess him as Lord. In 1925 the observance of Christ the King proclaimed that no earthly ruler is lord. The day proclaimed Jesus is king not only of our hearts and our private moments and personal salvation but of all time and space.

Andy said...

Wow, I didn't realize Christ the King was such a recent addition. It seems like such a perfect fit in the calendar. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Christ the King was also a reaction by the RC Church against Lutherans who celebrated Reformation Sunday... as a reminder of who is truly King. :)

However it is a wonderful end to the liturgical year and a great warm-up for Advent.

Great blog!

In The Parish

Weekend Fisher said...

Hm, hope I'm not too late to the conversation. How do we reign ... I always thought it was the Saints Triumphant who reigned in that passage but I'd have to look it up to be sure. I suppose in this world we reign just like Christ did. When those who hate us accuse us unjustly, start hitting and spitting and making fun of us, that we think more of their forgiveness than our suffering. Not that I'm doing a great job of that, I've just got "Crown him with many crowns" running through my head, that's all.

Take care & God bless