Monday, November 21, 2011

Meditations for Christ the King Sunday

The Last Judgment

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,
 he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. "

I have been struck fresh this year the beauty of the juxtaposition of the final Sunday of the liturgical calendar being Christ the King Sunday and the first Sunday of the liturgical year being the beginning of Advent.  I knew the Sundays existed, I just hadn't yet in my short time following the Church calendar laid them side by side.  It's a marvelous commencement.

At Christ Church, we heard reminders from the Word of this majestic Christ (and may I recommend listening to our guest preacher Dr. William Taylor's message online, especially my non-anglican friends as he spoke quite a bit from that perspective).  All year long -- since last Advent -- we've been building toward this moment, following the life of Christ in his birth, death, resurrection, ascension, the tongues of flame sent down with His Spirit.  We've spent months of Ordinary Time contextualizing His example and teaching into the life of our local church, almost as an annual "zooming in" feature like we use on Google maps.    As is fitting, we do not end the liturgical year zoomed in, rather we scale back out at a comparatively breath-taking speed when you consider the weeks and months we spend in the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Easter.  We take a pause on All Saints Sunday to look backward and then two weeks later, the final Sunday of the calendar, we lean forward (I imagine us pulled forward by the centrifugal force of the invisible kingdom), strain to hear the prelude notes of the pealing seventh trumpet with all the loud voices of heaven proclaiming:
"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."
Seven days later, we put on the longing of our Old Testament brethren, longing in the waiting.  Imagining the relief of peace and justice our one-day arriving Messiah will bring. We pray the Spirit to energize us once again in our daily prayer for His kingdom to come on earth as in heaven. We believe with believers of all time, that God will keep His Word even though we have no idea the day or hour.  And no way of hoping with hope large enough the beauty of its fulfillment.  And opening ourselves to the formation of trying to imagine it anyway. Formation of Jesus' own words our role in hungering and thirsting for peace and justice:

Matthew 25: 31-46
The Final Judgment
 31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for youfrom the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 40And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.' 41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' 44Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' 45Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

A sonnet for Christ the King Sunday, in response to this reading, by Malcolm Guite .  (you can read the sonnet at his blog post)

Sonnet for Christ the King (mp3)

And a hymn:

Happy New Year, friends.  To the King and His Kingdom.  There is a King.

                                                                  Christ in Judgment
from Art in the Christian Tradition,
 a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN

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