Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 24 November 2021

Richard Peers Oikodomeo Sermon: Launching the Movement for the Abolition of the Feast of Christ the King

Ian Gomersall St Chrysostom’s Church News and Views What will be the shape of the Church to come?

Helen King ViaMedia.News General Synod: “Gone Fishing!”

Bruce Bryant-Scott The Island Parson General Synod of the Church of England November 2021: A Comparison with the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada

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Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
9 days ago

Like Richard Peers, I am convinced neither about the feast of Christ the King nor about the Church of England’s adoption of red as the preferred liturgical colour from All Saints to Advent. The latter has no historical precedent and little going for it other than finding something to do for the least used set of vestments. More seriously, as a season of preparation for the preparation season, experience is showing that it is difficult to prevent the ‘Kingdom’ season with its glorious climax on the feast of Christ the King from stealing much of Advent’s thunder. Once Fr Richard has… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 days ago

Many thanks. I agree completely. It has been in the lectionary only since 2000, and the argument that the Church of England was, in this instance, transposing ‘the best’ of the Roman missal into Common Worship is, at best, a dubious proposition. What I think must have happened is that the editors of CW thought “we must throw a bone to that section of the A-C community that is more RC than the pope”. The back story of Quas Primas (1925) is itself problematic. Pius XI was not only firing a salvo at the Cartel des Gauches (which came to… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Froghole
9 days ago

Sorry, for ‘lectionary’, I ought to have written kalendar.

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
Reply to  Froghole
9 days ago

It’s implicitly in the lectionary too, in that the readings are clearly chosen for the feast.

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
Reply to  Froghole
9 days ago

What I think must have happened is that the editors of CW thought “we must throw a bone to that section of the A-C community that is more RC than the pope”. The proposed calendar appended to The Promise of His Glory in 1991 introduced a feast called “the kingship of Christ” on the Sunday before Advent, with the three Sundays after All Saints’ Day as “Sundays of the Kingdom”, together with readings from the RCL for these Sundays. When PohG was commended by the bishops, the lectionary and calendar changes were not authorized, but still got published as an… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
9 days ago

Many thanks indeed for this – and also for your useful note on the same topic in one of Ian Paul’s recent posts.

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
9 days ago

Maybe the ‘Kingdom’ season had its genesis even earlier. The ASB 1980 (absurdly) began the Church Year on the ‘9th Sunday before Christmas’ seemingly for no better reason than to make Advent longer. CW ended that particular bit of nonsense, but introduced its own absurdity with red as the preferred liturgical colour. I don’t have a problem with the lections for those Sundays, but the triumphalism attendent on the Feast of Christ the King detracts from Advent’s great call to ‘attend’ in joyful expectation. For those churches which still treat Advent as another Lent, I suppose having one last hurrah… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 days ago

The ASB lectionary and the associated calendar beginning with the Ninth Sunday before Christmas has its origins in a scheme devised by the Joint Liturgical Group. That scheme took the three feasts of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost and arranged the calendar and lectionary around them as a reading scheme. If I remember correctly, the Old Testament lesson was the “controlling reading” in the Christmas section, the gospel in the Easter section, and the epistle in the Pentecost section. In the build-up to Christmas the salvation history was read, beginning with the creation at the beginning of Genesis, and progressing through… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Allan Sheath
9 days ago

By chance I tuned into the televised Papal Mass on the Solemnisation of the Feast of Christ the King from St Peter’s, Rome a couple of days ago. The liturgical colour there was white and gold (isn’t red for Whitsun/ Pentecost and martyrs?). Bishop Bell wrote a fine hymn “Christ is the King, O friends rejoice” which was always sung at the church where until recently I was part-time organist. This feast day is firmly established in the RC calendar, and I’m sure some other learned correspondent can explain its origin and adoption in the C of E.

Jo B
Jo B
9 days ago

Maybe I’m looking at different Gospels to Richard Peers but I seem to recall Jesus being referred to as king (or implied by saying that it is his kingdom, and that he shall reign) several times in the infancy narratives. Certainly the Magi come looking for a king. Jesus himself says “my kingdom is not of this world”. Jesus carefully avoided being acclaimed as king during his earthly ministry, not because he wasn’t king, but because it was not his mission to rule an earthly kingdom.

Simon Bravery
Simon Bravery
9 days ago

I am also enrolling in MAFCK. My main objection is that FCK has displaced Stir Up Sunday. This rather neatly links the collect with the making of the Christmas Pudding.

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
Reply to  Simon Bravery
9 days ago

The “Stir up” collect remains in CW as the Post Communion prayer for the last Sunday before Advent (so it gets used if you have a Eucharist). The rubric attached to the prayer also says that it may be used as the collect at Morning and Evening Prayer on the following weekdays, instead of the collect for Christ the King.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
9 days ago

Placing the wonderful Stir up Collect as a Post Communion Prayer is a definite demotion. The modern version also lacks the important “we beseech thee” element. In most Collects and prayers God’s name comes first “Our Father” – “Almighty God” but not so in the Collect for the Sunday before Advent which strikingly begins “Stir up” – “Excita”. So, if we are going to be excited or agitated about anything – let it be in a campaign to restore this glorious prayer to its rightful place as the Collect for the day rather than some after thought at the conclusion… Read more »

Father David
Father David
9 days ago

“Let’s have a feast of Christ the Teacher … no, I’m not serious”. We’ve already had one but then we ditched it when the ASB was abandoned. Those with good memories will remember that in the ASB each Sunday had a theme and, lo and behold, the theme for the 9th Sunday before Easter was “Christ the Teacher” followed on the 8th Sunday before Easter by “Christ the Healer” and the 7th Sunday befor Easter by “Christ the Friend of Sinners”. Thereafter the first five Sundays in Lent were designated as “The King and the Kingdom” Sundays. As I recall… Read more »

Latecomer
Latecomer
Reply to  Father David
9 days ago

and pity those churches who have to squeeze in their patronal festival for St Catharine too!

Kate
Kate
9 days ago

If a church gets worked up – either way – about a Feast of Christ the King, it’s lost its focus on what actually matters.

FrDavidH
FrDavidH
Reply to  Kate
9 days ago

What is that exactly?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavidH
8 days ago

Maybe ‘justice and mercy and faith’ (Mt.23.23)?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate
8 days ago

Yup.

mikethecanon
mikethecanon
Reply to  Kate
8 days ago

Thank you Kate. My thoughts exactly.

american piskie
american piskie
Reply to  Kate
8 days ago

I would have thought that the questions “who is Jesus Christ?” and “how do we relate to him?” are pretty central ones.

Christina Beardsley
Christina Beardsley
9 days ago

Transferring the Feast of Christ the King back to the last Sunday in October, as Pope Pius XI intended, and immediately prior to the Feast of All Saints, would resolve the clash with Stir Up Sunday and the desire for the liturgical year to end on a quieter note. It would though then be out of step with the majority of Roman Catholics and in line with those traditional Catholics who still celebrate it on the earlier date. As well as being in competition with Reformation Sunday which I’ve just read this Feast was also designed to counter. I’m happy… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
9 days ago

Fr. Richard Peers has stirred up a delicious controversy. Jesus as ‘king’ is a metaphor. Jesus is also the ‘good shepherd’ although he likely never worked a day as one. Certainly abolishing Christ the King would be an easier ask than abolishing Good Shepherd Sunday given the disparate emotional investments between the two equally biblical metaphors. My take away? Pay more attention to both our metaphors and to biblical irony. Peace activist Bishop Thomas Gumbleton has an excellent sermon on Christ and kingship. I’ve attached a link. It captures my appreciation for the feast day perfectly.

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/peace-pulpit/jesus-king-not-king-worlds-definition

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 days ago

A hymn largely absent from today’s books: Conquering kings their titles take From the foes they captive make; Jesus, by a nobler deed, From the thousands he hath freed.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
9 days ago

I suspect it has never quite recovered from W. A. Spooner announcing it in New College chapel as ‘Kinkering congs their titles take’: one of the few genuine Spoonerisms ‘the Spoo’ actually admitted to having uttered.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
9 days ago

“Jesus shall reign wherever the sun, doth its successive journeys run…” Like the British Empire, only different. Lol. Here in Canada the day under discussion is named ‘Reign of Christ Sunday’ with the collect describing his rule as “loving and gentle”. Meanwhile we moved the BCP collect ” stir up” to the Sunday which occurs between September 4th and 10th. It’s called ‘stir up Sunday’ with a view to stirring people up to get back to church after summer. A gem of a collect now doing prosaic service. Of course, we have also moved St Stephen’s Day to August 3rd.… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
9 days ago

Wasn’t Kinkering Congs the favourite hymn of the queer old dean? God bless her!

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Rod Gillis
8 days ago

I am thrilled at the way we have been able to lift the tone of this thread from throat-slittingly serious to sparklingly bubbly with added Spoons. On the matter of liturgical red, Bodley/Watts left St Paul’s Burton a magnificent red pine High Altar frontal (picture on my FB page) which had been dumped in a cupboard in the vestry as not conforming to the ersatz-catholic tradition that St Paul’s affected over the years. I rescued it and made it the norm based on a fragment of unpublished liturgical text that only I’ve seen confirming red as Sarum use for ordinary… Read more »

Dave
Dave
9 days ago

I’m really pleased to see the words about the shape of the church of the future. I agree with lots in it.
The church is reducing in size and has been for years. (The exception as we know is that as numbers attending go down managers go up!)
I like the quote from the Pope.
It seems to me this is a big and important debate, and probably bigger than the statues of the Feast of Christ the King – but thats interesting too!

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
9 days ago

I think one thing that can be easily overlooked by way of modern Anglican liturgical history is the role the Anglican Franciscan Order, the Society of St Francis, especially through the Late Brother Tristram SSF has had in terms of impact on the Church of England. In Liturgy whenever there is a Revision of the Eucharist a Revision of the Divine Office follows in its wake or Vice-Versa. In 1992 the tan Archbishop of Canterbury Bishop Lord Carey wanted the Society of St Francis to share its Revision of its Daily Office Book for the Divine Office with the Church… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Simon Kershaw(@simon-kershaw)
Admin
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
8 days ago

Always good to remember our dear friend, Br Tristam, much missed. However, CCP also shied away from a feast of Christ the King. Like Promise of his Glory, CCP had The Kingship of Christ. There seem to have been reservations among the liturgists, perhaps similar to those expressed by Richard Peers.

Doug Chaplin
8 days ago

I don’t have a problem with the feast (but stick to green for other November Sundays, and white / gold for Christ the King). The consummation of all things as the completion of the year’s telling of the Christian story seems to me a legitimate conception. I see that as something slightly different from and complementary to the Advent themes. With Christ the King, we are looking at the endpoint of the story. With Advent, we remind ourselves that we tell the whole story in the light of the endpoint. Advent elides our expectation of the penultimate appearing of Christ… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Doug Chaplin
8 days ago

That’s how I have always seen the point and position of the feast Doug.

Father Ron Smith
8 days ago

I don’t quite ‘get’ the intention of Richard Peers’ de-thronement of Jesus who, himself said “My Kingdom is not of this world”. This is not exactly a denial of Christ The King! The popular cry on Palm Sunday: “Hosanna to the Son of David”, after all, has kingly implications. Also the popular saying that that “Christ is Lord” certainly implies a desire on the part of Jesus’ worshippers to recognise his status as Christus Rex. It seems to me that the Servanthood of Jesus is not cancelled out by his pre-eminence over, and Lordship over all humanity. There are enough… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
8 days ago

Fr. Ron, In light of your comment, I’d be interested in your thoughts on R.C. bishop Thomas Gumbleton’s critique of Christ the King Sunday in his sermon available via the link in my initial comment on this thread. It seems to me his views are more tightly focused. For one thing, Gumbleton does not muddy the waters by lamenting over the displacement of the traditional collect for the Sunday Next Before Advent.

Father Ron Smith
Reply to  Rod Gillis
3 days ago

The very fact that Jesus is not a self-proclaimed king, Rod, does not (IMO) prevent his followers from wanting to proclaim HIS KINGSHIP – which, as Jesus himself said: “is not of this world”. Nevertheless, this should not prevent us, his followers from acknowledging the fact that – as part of our traditional Trinitarian understanding of the Godhead – Jesus has been proclaimed as the Head of the Kingdom of God and, as such deserves our fealty. This does NOT deny our understanding of the other biblical titles of Jesus; one of which is Shepherd. I think that what the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 days ago

Thanks for the reply Fr. Ron. I think your reference to the Trinity is germane. “Sitting on the right hand” (creed) is a statement about Christ’s identity and not a ‘location finder’. The fact that kingship is (1) an OT metaphor for God, as is ‘shepherd’ (2) that in the Gospels Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God/heaven complicates the arguments both pro and con re Christ the King Sunday. Interestingly, this follows the trend about changing metaphors for God, for example replacing God as ‘king’ with God as ‘ the sovereign’ or replacing ‘kingdom of God’ with God’s ‘dominion’ or… Read more »

Susannah Clark
8 days ago

Jesus had a masculine body as far as we know (highly likely) and applied to him, ‘King’ seems resonant and meaningful. The difficulty with the term comes when it’s extended to God as Trinity. God as King but then God as Queen as well? The concept of ‘King’ has male associations which sort of elevate the masculine in God, inviting misappropriation and patriarchal assumptions that have blighted the religious lives and social status of women in many times and societies. I prefer the term ‘Sovereignty’ and ‘Sovereign’. Same with the term ‘Kingdom’. We live in the United Kingdom. We have… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
8 days ago

Richard Peers’ challenge on kingship sits well within the ongoing tensions in the scriptures where the idea of kingship is both deeply ambivalent but is not excluded. In Samuel a king is allowed by God but after strong warnings as to what it will be like. Be careful what you wish for. But it is the choice of Christ the King to somehow complete the church’s year on a upbeat note that I question more. This is something the scripture narratives consistently never do. They all end on an aspirational note. The Torah ends with Moses viewing the land from… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  David Runcorn
8 days ago

David, I’m intrigued at the different ways of seeing Christ the King on this thread. Doug Chaplin sees the feast as a look at the endpoint of the story. To me this feels a little too linear – as if we come to a stop that Sunday and begin again on Advent 1. What I find pressing in on me from All Saints/All Souls through to late Advent, and in different ways, is ‘next year in Jerusalem’. Subjective, I know, but not without scriptural warrant as your post shows.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
8 days ago

There is, of course, a Spinal Tap quote for every situation. It’s rare the parallel is so direct. Ian Gomersall writes: “I believe the Church of England is being called to be a smaller, leaner and ‘fitter’ church.” Ian Gomersall’s namesake, Spinal Tap’s manager Ian Faith, made the same point. Marty: The last time Tap toured America, they were, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they’re being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh…the popularity of the… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
8 days ago

Whatever the origins, the Feast of Christ the King was important to the Jubilee Group, a left-wing Christian network of which I was part, founded by the late Ken Leech and others. To me, proclaiming the kingship of Christ undercuts worldly notions of leadership and also challenges the power of the mighty on earth and structures of injustice, linked with inequalities of class, gender, race etc. I think many people on the receiving end of oppression can relate to the yearning in a hymn such as ‘Hail to the Lord’s anointed’.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Savi Hensman
8 days ago

To me, proclaiming the kingship of Christ undercuts worldly notions of leadership”

Very good point

Georges Staelens
8 days ago

Abolishing Christ the King! Finally I don’t feel alone any more about this topic. Well done, great article!

Jo B
Jo B
8 days ago

One further thought on Christ the King: rather than abolish it we should enhance it by reviving the Leveller cry, “no king but Jesus”.

Susannah Clark
7 days ago

The more I reflect on it, the more I feel that the Kingship of Jesus is fundamental to my life. It’s not the only aspect of my relationship with him, but surely, we are encouraged to proclaim Jesus as our King and welcome him to be enthroned in our hearts.

This song is tender and speaks to me of the King who is ‘My Lord and my God’.

Dave
Dave
5 days ago

For me the Feast of Christ, the Universal King – has cosmic significance.

Tim Chesterton
3 days ago

I resonate with what Bruce Bryant-Scott has to say. Despite the fact that we share a common history and theology with the Church of England, our Anglican Church of Canada is very, very different – mostly because we are basically an episcopal ‘free church’.

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