Entering into the Reign of God
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In the last few years, the British Royal Family made a popular comeback. People admired the Queen’s many decades of faithful service and sense of duty. Who could resist Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and their ‘relatable’ parents? The popular television series The Crown has ensured that my own Netflix subscription remains current. And yet, as the serious allegations regarding the actions of Prince Andrew have emerged, the role of the Royal Family has once again come under scrutiny.
On Sunday, the Christian festival of ‘Christ the King’ or the ‘The Reign of Christ’ was celebrated. Like all our language for God, ‘King’ is an approximation, a choice of words in an attempt to describe the divine. ‘Jesus is King’ is part of Christian vocabulary everywhere from traditional hymns to American rapper Kanye West’s recent album.
What might this language and this festival mean, given the realities of human leadership in its various and fallible forms, the history of the church where dominance of others has occurred all too often, and injustices and suffering, even as people of faith profess that God is active in the world?
Part of the answer lies in the type of reign that God inaugurates through the person of Jesus Christ. The Gospel reading for the Festival of Christ the King takes us into the very scene of crucifixion. Jesus is crucified under a sign that says, ‘King of the Jews’ and soldiers mock him telling him to use his power to save himself.
Two thieves are crucified on either side of Jesus. One thief mocks Jesus telling him to save himself, the other thief sees something that others have missed, ‘… This man has done nothing wrong … Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ To which Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Jesus is a king who fully enters into the human condition as a vulnerable baby. He proclaimed the reign of God through his teaching, healing, feeding and challenge to the powers of his day. He is a king who suffers and dies. But that is not the end of the story.
The resurrection of Jesus informs a way of being in the world which empowers his followers to continue his work. Followers who are intentional in living a life where their number one allegiance is to the reign of God, where peace, justice, mercy, kindness and above all love are proclaimed and lived out in large and small ways.
As our College prayer reminds us, it is God’s love that binds ‘the things of earth with the Kingdom of Heaven.’ May we be ever conscious of God’s love for all creation and may it guide us in all we do.
Rev. Katherine Rainger
Radford Carols, Sunday 1 December, 7pm - all welcome!