Christ the King

Revd. Heather
Sunday, November 24, 2019 - 9:30am

Colossians 1:11-20

Luke 23:33-43


Those of us who were at Alan Turton’s talk on William Paulet on Friday night were treated to a wonderful evening and reminded that Basing and Basing House was the scene of many royal visits by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, as well as the honeymoon destination of Queen Mary I and Philp II of Spain. These heads of state would have come here in their glamour and splendour and been treated with great honour. It is quite some thought that the Kings and Queens of England would have been wondering around these parts! And why have sermons that reference Basing House two weeks in a row?! Well because today we think of the Kingship of Jesus. 


Yet Christ’s reign as King looks a little different to that of an earthly Royal. Christ does not take a seat upon the wood of an earthly throne, but rather comes to dwell with us in the wood of a crib and freely accepts the wood of the cross. Christ’s kingship really challenges us, because money, prestige and recognition – things that society at large and even ourselves might regard as giving us earthly power, do not give power in Christ’s kingdom. 


His kingship, his authority has been building throughout the Gospel of Luke. As we have heard Luke’s Gospel read in church throughout the past year, we have come to know more deeply Jesus who has concern for others, especially the marginalised, the poor, sinners, women, and who reaches out time and time again in love and forgiveness. Those qualities of inclusion, love and forgiveness are at the heart of who He is.  Yet it is today, as we hear of Christ’ crucifixion that we see his power and authority exemplified in the most unexpected of places – on the cross. In Luke’s account, Jesus’ crucifixion is about love of others, vulnerability and forgiveness. 


Like all the Synoptic Gospels, Luke’s account has those words: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself.’ There’s that temptation put to Jesus: Go on put yourself first. Use your power to save you. But that is not what Jesus is about. Instead from the cross, from that place of great pain and suffering his thoughts are of mercy and forgiveness of others. When the second criminal turns to him and says ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus pronounces pardon ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ It is through Jesus’ vulnerability, through his humiliation on the cross, that Jesus conquer sin and death, promising that He will open the gates to paradise. Jesus’ final act before he diesis the ultimate act of love and forgiveness, and that too is where his power resides. When all appears lost, Jesus’ almighty power breaks through with that overwhelming light, love and hope of the resurrection and eternal life. What a gift he offers to that criminal next to him – a promise of paradise. 


And what for us today? Every time we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist we recall the power of Jesus’ love and forgiveness poured out for us upon the cross, and we pray that God’s kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven. We long for God’s light, love and hope of the resurrection to break through.


Yet this is challenging stuff, because it is counter cultural. Do we really wish to accept Kingship of Jesus on the cross? Do we want to place ourselves under his authority? Do we want to be guided and governed by the one who associates himself with the marginalised, the poor, the sinner? Is that the kind of life that we want to lead? 


It is the kind of life that God calls us to lead as Christians. As St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Colossians, we are to shape our worldview on Jesus Christ. And God promises to strengthen us in doing so. When we gather together with other Christians, when we hear scripture read, when we affirm the creed, when we hear the words again of the Eucharistic prayer we are opening ourselves being shaped by God, by God who loves to bring us into his Kingdom, offering us love and forgiveness and strengthen us with hispower. 


It’s interesting to be reminded of the values of God’s kingdom, that kingdom over which Christ reigns, at a time when we face a crucial general election and our minds are on matters of earthly power. We have an opportunity to vote for those who will govern our country. We know that no human authority alone will change the world as radically as to bring in the kingdom of God, yet we should still prayerfully consider who to vote for. And no matter who holds earthly power, we as Christians are called to look to Jesus as our king and to seek to share God’s love and forgiveness with all people, whether looking out for those who are lonely; whether supporting the Basingstoke nightshelter this winter; whether campaigning to end homelessness; whether donating to the Foodbank, whether calling for an end to food poverty. For it is when Christ is king in our hearts and the hearts of all people that his kingdom is truly known upon earth. Amen.