A reflection for the 22nd November 2020
Last Sunday of the Churches Year

Listen Here
Offered for Sunday 22nd November 2020


Stephen

Reflections Script

Christ the King

November 22nd 2020


Each year I produce
a sheet of paper
with the set Sunday Bible Readings
for the whole of the
Church year based upon
the Church of England
Lectionary
and state clearly
on the front page
these set readings
should be used
Sunday by Sunday
but the movement of
the Holy Spirit
is not to be ignored!

With this in mind
I'm not keeping to the set
Gospel reading from Matthew,
on this last
Sunday of the Churches Year
I'm going to base
my reflections
from John 18 verses 33 to 37,
which takes us to the
Crucifixion narrative
with Jesus before Pilate....


33 Pilate went back
   into the palace
   and called Jesus.
  "Are you the King of the Jews?"
   he asked him.
34 Jesus answered,
  "Does this question
   come from you or
   have others told you about me?"
35 Pilate replied,
  "Do you think I am a Jew?
   It was your own people
   and the chief priests
   who handed you over to me.
   What have you done?"
36 Jesus said,
  "My kingdom does not
   belong to this world;
   if my kingdom belonged
   to this world,
   my followers would fight
   to keep me
   from being handed over
   to the Jewish authorities.
   No, my kingdom
   does not belong here!"
   So Pilate asked him,
37"Are you a king, then?"
   Jesus answered,
  "You say that I am a king.
   I was born
   and came into the world
   for this one purpose,
   to speak about the truth.
   Whoever belongs to the truth
   listens to me."
38 "And what is truth?"
   Pilate asked.


Now in good old fashioned
evangelical preaching style
the words from
Jesus' own lips
will serve as the basis
for my reflections
"My kingdom does not
belong to this world".


Let us Pray


Lord God
You gave the peoples
of the world
as the inheritance
of your only Son;
you crowned him as
King of Zion,
your holy city,
and gave him
your Church
to be his Bride.
As he proclaims
the law
of your eternal kingdom,
may we serve him faithfully,
and so share
his royal power forever. Amen.


Address

I'm going to start
by asking
a series of questions??

Can you sum up the Gospel
in three words?
Can you find a phrase
that incorporates
the incarnation,
crucifixion and
resurrection?

Can you describe
the means by which the way
of rebellion and pride
is replaced by
freedom and justice?

Can you cover
the commands of the
Sermon of the Mount?

The abiding
presence of Jesus;
The council of the Holy Spirit;
The return of Christ?

In three words,
can you account for
the reason why Christ
is misunderstood,
hated and feared
at the same time
that he is loved,
obeyed and worshipped?

Your countdown starts now
countdown 30 seconds
have you come up with
'three words'

The earliest followers of
Jesus Christ had
just such a phrase.

They knew that the key
to the Christ-life
was the proclamation
that "Jesus is Lord".

Or, in other words,
they knew that if
'Christ is King'
then all else follows.

The claim of kingship
was not an abstract concept
for Jesus or
the people who followed him.

It was the sign of their
sharpest break
from the world -
the source
of their persecution.

When Gentiles
living in the Roman Empire
proclaimed that
Jesus was Lord
they were proclaiming
that Caesar was not.

When Jews proclaimed
the kingship of Christ
they were upsetting
the nationalist expectations
of a warrior Messiah.

Anyone using the phrase
was marked out as different,
subversive, even dangerous.

Of all the things
that could have been
put above his head,
it was the proclamation
of Jesus' kingship
that Pilate had nailed
to the cross.

"My kingdom
is not from this world."

Centuries of Christian
history have perhaps
dulled us to the
matter-of-fact nature
of the phrase
"Christ is King".

It is easy now
for us to hear Jesus'
statement that his kingdom
is not of this world
as meaning that his
Lordship is purely a
"spiritual" one.

Christ might be king
in our Sunday worship
but in our public,
everyday life
the claim has no purchase.

The phrase has
become a subject of
inner belief
and not a rallying cry
for outer obedience.

Since Christ's kingdom
is not of this world,
runs the logic,
then the kingship
of Christ has no relevance
for the way we spend our money,
regulate our business
or organise our social groups.

This certainly makes
life easier for those of us
living comfortable lives.
But if Christ's kingship
has nothing to say to
the powers that be,
then it also has no hope
to give to people
crushed by injustice
or to a world having
the life squeezed out of it by
our systems of habitual violence,
haughtiness and greed.?

One person who
did not think that
the proclamation
of such a kingdom
was unrelated to the
everyday world
in which he lived
was the writer
of John's Gospel.

When Jesus,
speaks of a "kingdom,
that is not from this world",
we are to read this
in the same way
that we read John 1:5


5 "The light shines
   in the darkness,
   and the darkness
   did not overcome it."

John never sees
Christ's kingdom as a removal
from the world,
but instead as an
injection of a new way
of being in the world.

The kingdom is one
which the world needs;
indeed it's crying out for;
and yet which the world
could never generate
on its own.

Since it was
first proclaimed,
Christ's kingdom
has attracted
new citizens
from all walks of life.

But precisely because
it stands in stark
contrast to those
walks of life,
Christ's kingdom
has also attracted
fear and persecution.

The group who turns
the other cheek,
or who organises itself
so as to give the
weakest members honour,
or whose members give up
their lives for their friends
is a group which is
appealing and appalling
in equal measure -
but it is never irrelevant
to everyday life.

My kingdom is not
from this world.
"As Christ's people
we live in a kingdom
whose rules of life
have not been drawn
from the surrounding
kingdoms but instead
have been set by our 'King'.

In other words,
we live in a kingdom
that is in this world,
but not of it.
As Christ's subjects,
we strive to remain
faithful to his example.
Yet we also live in
expectation that though
we live as aliens
in this world
our rightful king
will return
to claim his throne.

That is why since
the earliest days
of the Church,
Christians have used
another three words
to accompany their
great gospel
proclamation that
"Jesus is Lord",
and that is the prayer
"Come, Lord Jesus". Amen.


To Summarise

If we use the phrase
"Christ is King" or
"Jesus is Lord"
then everthing
else follows.

This idea stands
at the heart of the
earliest Christian life
and thought.
It is the source of
the Church's greatest
successes and also
the reason for its persecution.?

Jesus' kingdom is not
from this world,
but it is for this world.
A temptation in our day
is to see the
kingship of Christ
as a "private" or
"spiritual" affair,
thus missing both the
challenge and the hope
that the Lordship
of Jesus gives to
this present age.

Christians await
the return of their
rightful king.
That is why the
other three-word
prayer of the early
Church was
"Come, Lord Jesus."....


Our Blessing

Starts with a commentary
and concludes with our blessing

Whatever you did for
one of the least
of my brethren,
you did for me.

Christ our King,
a king of love
and mercy,
leaves us this request.

Let us ask him for
the grace to live
our lives consumed
by his love
freely given.

Finally,
love one another
as I have loved you,
says Jesus.

With this mission
lifting out hearts
let us move forward
committed to spread
Christ's Kingdom of love,
one heart at a time.

God The Father,
Help us to hear
the call of
'Christ the King'
and follow in his service,
Whose kingdom has
no end;

For he reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
One God, One Glory.
And the blessings.....


group