Friday, 21 November 2003

just thinking...

Awaiting licensing to a new post, there is one bonus, as I sit amongst the detritus of moving house — I don’t have to preach on Sunday, the day we mark as ‘Christ the King’. I always find these weeks before Advent, which we now call the Kingdom season, difficult. The words given to us to use in worship and in our lectionary readings are distinctly triumphalist. They speak of majesty, power, grandeur, force. How do they fit with the gospel theme of a world turned upside down, a world where the priorities are quite other? The contrast seems all the more striking this year, when the immediately preceding Sundays gave us a whole series of readings from Mark, in which we are told that the first shall be last and the last first.

But perhaps I should regret not preaching this Sunday, and trying to work out my ambivalence about the Church’s season in the light of current events. News coverage this week has been dominated by the state visit of the president of the United States. George Bush’s visit has been an extraordinary mixture of pomp and security. He has been entertained at Buckingham Palace, and protected by enormous numbers of police and security officers; he has addressed the political elite, travelled in a limousine with doors five inches thick, and reviewed a traditional guard of honour. Majesty, power, grandeur, and force.

My questioning is not about the character of American foreign policy under this president, or even about the extent and limits of American power; it runs deeper than that. It is about how the Christian tradition views power and all its trappings. In celebrating Christ the King, it is not enough to imagine a purely virtuous superpower, engaged in promoting universal well-being by using the traditional levers of force and influence. We are called, I think, to something much more radical, to re-imagining the nature and uses of dominion, to losing the triumphalism, and seeking out what it might mean for the last indeed to be first.

Posted by Jane Freeman on Friday, 21 November 2003 at 7:57am GMT | TrackBack
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For me, these next two Sundays (CtheK and Advent1) are among my favorites: because of the hymns. Christ the King means singing "Crown Him w/ Many Crowns" and "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," while Advent1 (usually--hopefully?) brings "Lo! he comes w/ clouds descending". These three hymns have a timeless quality, w/ stirring tunes appropriate to the subject matter.

And what of that subject matter? A number of years ago, I observed the importance of the phrase "Jesus is Lord!" in the Black Church tradition. I (who am white) was a little uncomfortable w/ it---an explicit Evangelicalism so different from my ritualistic Anglo-Catholicism---until it was explained to me as follows. "In proclaiming 'Jesus is Lord!' we're also proclaiming what *isn't* lord: whatever man-made forces that would hold us down."

That clicked for me. I could see those forces in my own life, and a lot of me-created impostors as well. So on the Eve of this year's Christ the King Sunday, I look out (and in) at all the pretenders to the throne and proclaim *Jesus is Lord!*

Blessings, y'all.

Posted by: J. Collins Fisher on Saturday, 22 November 2003 at 7:39am GMT

Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.

Posted by: McKelvey Janet on Thursday, 20 May 2004 at 5:01pm BST