Saturday, November 19, 2022

Reign of Christ / Christ the King

Colossians 1:11-20

11May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13He has rescued [exodus, a new deliverance, a new freedom from slavery] us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

17He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to Godself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Christ the King / Reign of Christ

Every year the church's year of grace concludes by celebrating Jesus Christ as Lord of all. Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in 1925.

The language of Christ the King – a male monarch with single, singular authority – trips up some people. Once again explaining circumstances as cultural (ways people relate and create meaning) sometimes feels tired or too persistent, but the two millennia ago Greco-Roman culture would not have taken a female redeemer seriously, nor would a woman connect with Old Testament passages about a coming savior and a messianic age. As we've discovered, Jesus son of David, child of Mary and son of heaven, inverts and subverts the way it's always been – the endless recycling of the same thing that always ended in death – in almost every detail, including his inclusion and affirmation of women.

As I've mentioned several times on this blog, in Saxon English the Lord provided the loaf or the sustenance for the citizens of his realm.

You may have come across kindom of heaven. For sure we all are close kin to each other in Jesus, our elder brother; we absolutely are interconnected with a high degree of responsibility and accountability to one another (as Jesus counseled, to be saved, keep the commandments, keep covenant with all creation). However, "kindom" erases the reality of Jesus' power and the wisdom of his rule; it comes close to obliterating our need of a Savior who is both fully human and also God in our midst. It even removes Jesus as sovereign!

Cosmic Christ

Particularly this chapter of the letter to the church at Colossae brings us the pre-existent and still regnant Christ who fills and rules the entire cosmos, who subverts empire, inverts the political, social, economic, and religious status quo, who is the image and the reality of God parallel to In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. (John 1:1) Colossians 1:15 announces, "Christ is the image of the invisible God"; in John 14:19 Jesus tells us, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father."

Everything I blogged during July on Colossians 1:15-20 for Pentecost 6 works well for today. I mostly wrote about resisting empire and overcoming in general; there's no need to say it all over again, except my last paragraph:

If – because! – Jesus rules the cosmos and us as individuals, then Samsung, BP, and Shell don't. If – because! – Jesus is our ultimate authority, then the Russian Federation and the United States government aren't. Because Jesus is Lord, national flags and corporate logos aren't our central symbols. The cross of Calvary is.

The reign of the crucified and risen Lord has no limits, no checks and balances. It is comprehensive. Notice the repeated word all in today's scripture!

Luke 23:33-43 is the gospel for this Sunday. You might be interested in reading through Luke 23. Notice how many non-israelites, non-Jews, "outsiders" say something about Jesus' kingship. The king whose throne is a cross of shame!

Luke's lectionary year ends today. Next week the first Sunday of Advent begins a new year that features the gospel according to Matthew.

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