Coming up is my least favourite Sunday of the entire liturgical year. Reign of Christ. I don’t like it. I don’t like the crowns or the allusions to royalty.
For one thing, we do not view royalty in the same way. If Canadians saw the Queen as one who has a direct and good impact on their daily life, or any impact on their daily life for that matter, then maybe…MAYBE…I could relate.
It is also a patriarchal and hierarchical image that doesn’t help in an age of Church when we are trying to raise up ministries in community and honour every voice, particularly of women.
The only way I can get into Reign of Christ is if we make this a political feast, about the governmental powers of the day being overthrown by a reign of mercy, justice, compassion and grace. I can kind of get into that.
In my new parish, Reign of Christ is a Children’s day and I was given the sermon. Hmmm. I’m guessing preaching anarchy would NOT be a good example for our children. Well, it might be good, but certainly not appreciated!
So, after much searching and praying and begging for inspiration, I wrote the following story. One of our great actors and storytellers will be taking this and writing his own script for Sunday (which will be brilliant!). In the meantime, if this can inspire you in your meditations towards Sunday, please enjoy.
Today, we are going to meet a king.
Kings are big, and strong and powerful. Kings can do whatever they want to.
A king can buy and have anything he wants and be friends with anyone he wants, especially rich and powerful people.
A king can give lots and lots of gifts to his friends, so many people love a king.
A king can also throw his enemies in jail, or even have them killed, so many people are afraid of a king.
A king is very very powerful.
Kings are only born in families of kings. You can’t be a king or a queen unless your family is kings and queens.
But today, we meet a very different King. This king is more powerful than any other king on earth. He is Jesus, the Son of God, and he is the king of ALL the earth. He is our king. And he is a very, very different king.
Jesus’ parents were not a king and queen. His father, Joseph, was a carpenter, and his mother, Mary, a young woman. And they were poor. Jesus was not born in a castle. He was born in a place where animals are kept.
Jesus worked with his father, Joseph from the time he could hold a tool and Mary and Joseph taught him the important things.
One day, when Jesus was twelve years old, he went to the temple with Mary and Joseph for a very special celebration. They went to the temple to talk to God, and to listen for God’s voice, and to hear the great teachers tell the stories of God.
When it was time to go, Mary and Joseph went to their friends to take Jesus home. But they couldn’t find him. They looked everywhere. At last, they found him, sitting with the teachers in the temple.
Mary said, “Where were you? We were so scared. We looked everywhere!”
Jesus didn’t understand why Mary and Joseph were so scared. He said, “Why did you look everywhere? Didn’t you know that I would be right here, in my Father’s house?”
After that day, Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus would grow up to be wise and strong.
One day, when Jesus was all grown up, he was walking through the desert. He wondered who God wanted him to be. In the desert, by a river, he met a man named John.
John was telling people by the river, “Change the way you live. Follow God’s commands to love God and one another. And I will baptize you with water. You will be clean and new again, ready to follow God.” And he led them into the water and baptized them.
Jesus listened to John. He came to John and said, “Baptize me, too”.
So, John did. And when Jesus came up out of the water, there was a great voice, like it came out of Heaven. It was the voice of God and God said, “This is my Son. I love him, and I am pleased with him.”
When Jesus heard his Father’s voice come from heaven, he knew it was time for him to become King.
Instead of going to rich and important people, Jesus found humble workers and asked them to join him. And they did. He found people who were outcast, and asked them to join him. And they did.
Jesus taught his followers to love God and love one another. He taught them that God loves them, that God wants people to stop fighting with each other, that God wants us to help each other, feed those who are hungry, take care of those who are sick, to love everyone!
As Jesus travelled and taught, more people loved him and followed him. Jesus’ power was so great, he healed people. He made blind people see and deaf people hear. He even brought the dead back to life! Then, people began to call him, “King”.
As more and more people loved Jesus and called him “King”, other powerful people and rulers got very angry. If the people loved Jesus and called him “King”, then they would stop listening to their own rulers. And the rulers would lose the people…and their power.
So the rulers and powerful people began to make trouble for Jesus. They would make up reasons to arrest Jesus and put him in jail. But they never succeeded, and the people continued to love Jesus. In fact, the more the rulers and powerful people tried to take Jesus down, the more powerful he became, and the more people loved him.
The rulers and powerful people knew there was only one way they could stop Jesus. So, one night, when Jesus was with his friends, they came, and they arrested him.
They mocked him. They made him a purple robe, and instead of a golden crown, they made him wear a crown of thorns.
Then, they nailed him to a cross for him to die.
And when he was dead, they took his body down, and put it in a cave, and sealed the cave with a big stone, so no one could see him anymore.
But remember, Jesus is a different kind of king. He is God’s son, and king of ALL the earth, even over life and death.
Three days later, when Jesus’ friends came to the cave, it was open, and the body was gone. As more days went by, and his friends were sad, a man would appear among them and say, “Peace”. And they would look up through their tears and see Jesus! Jesus is alive!!
And King Jesus continued to teach them that God loves them, that God wants people to stop fighting with each other, that God wants us to help each other, feed those who are hungry, take care of those who are sick, to love everyone! Then, one day, he was gone. Some say they saw him disappear into heaven.
But even though Jesus is gone, he is still the King! And he still lives! He is our king, and as his followers, we promise to love God, to stop fighting with each other, to help each other, feed those who are hungry, take care of those who are sick and to love everyone.