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24 November 2013
posted by Canon Dakin on 26-11-2013

The Feast of Christ the King

The second reading this morning is a very interesting one. St Paul is quoting an early Christian hymn and scholars think that it was composed to be sung at a baptism. It is in two parts - Jesus as creator and Jesus as redeemer. At baptism we are reminded that our life is God’s original gift to which is added a share in God’s own life. As creator Jesus is already King of the universe; whilst the power of his death and resurrection is bringing creation to its fulfillment. So this feast anicipates Advent which turns our attention to Our Lord’s second coming and the end of time. This feast was not always an introduction to Advent. It was created in 1925 and put on an ordinary Sunday in October to insinuate the Church’s claim to have a say in the way that people should relate to each other - in other words that the Church’s social teaching was worth attention. The main points that the Church makes about our living on earth together concern the sanctity of life and the dignity of the individual, the importance of family and community and the soldarity of the whole human race in caring for creation and sharing what the earth provides for the good of all, and consequently a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable.                                                             

Now for some people this vision sits uncomfortably with the concept of kingship. Good kings who really cared for their people rather than using their power to make themselves rich are quite exceptional. I was a fan of the Merlin series on TV - partly because as a boy I was given, one Christmas, a book on King Arthur and his Knights which I read and re-read. The classical story was far different from the TV version. Merlin was a baby-snatcher. When his nurse was’t looking Merlin took the baby Prince Arthur and placed him with a humble knight, Sir Hector, where he would be brought up not spoiled and pampered but appreciating ordinary things, really enjoying treats because they were rare, learning to value honest relationships, unfeigned kindness and friendship. The Man Born to be King, as Dorothy Sayers put it,was born in a stable, apprenticed to his father, a carpenter, before taking to the road as a wandering preacher, and being condemned to die nailed to a cross because his message was not acceptable. His throne was the wood of his cross. It was the instrument by which he won the world for God. He came into a kingdom by being the champion of his people. He gave his life to serve them. As citizens of his kingdom we, too, are called to serve.

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