Reign of Christ Sunday is the last Sunday before Advent. It is the Sunday where we remember that Christ reigns and that we have great hope in this world because Christ was born, lived, died and rose again. Christ Reigns!
Ordinary time comes to a close on this Sunday and we are on the cusp of a new church year, anticipating the birth of Christ. The church journeyed thought a season of celebrating the saints; thanking those that have gone before. Now, on this day, the church celebrates that Christ Reigns and that we are invited to live into being saints in this world.
The Psalmist in Psalm 95:1-7a calls all people to “sing out loud to the Lord!” (1) and “raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation.” (2) This is a wonderful reminder that the body of believers are called to sing and to do so in a joyous manner. John Wesley wrote a great deal about singing and even had directions for people to follow as they sing. One of the directions is, “Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sing, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.” (3) What an amazing reminder that what we sing matters and the words that we sing have significance. They words we sing shape us and we must pay attention to the words we sing as they have a lasting impact.
The Psalmist goes on to talk about the fact that “The Lord is a great God, the great king over all other gods.” (4) What an appropriate reminder on Reign of Christ Sunday. The next verses, verses 4-5 say, “The earth’s depths are in his hands, the mountain heights belong to him; the sea, which he made, is his along with the dry ground, which his own hands formed.” (5) This world belongs to the Creator! God bent low and created this beautiful world. God took the time to form the various landscapes, animals, plants, and humanity. Thanks be to God! The world seems full of turmoil and brokenness, but the reminder that God is Creator gives us a great deal of hope. There is a wonderful hymn titled, “This is my Father’s World” and it goes as follows:
This is my Father’s world, And to my list’ning ears All nature sings, and round me rings The music of the spheres. This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas— His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world: The birds their carols raise, The morning light, the lily white, Declare their Maker’s praise. This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world: Oh, let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. This is my Father’s world, The battle is not done: Jesus who died shall be satisfied, And earth and Heav’n be one. (6)
The line that stands out in these dark times is, “Oh, let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
We Wesleyans live in the tension of the already and the not yet. We know about and live into the Reign of Christ, but the earth still groans under the destruction of death and sin in the world. We know that one day “earth and Heave’n [will] be one” and that fact gives us hope and should serve to motivate us to be agents of love and reconciliation in this world.
The final verses from the passage are, “Come, let’s worship and bow down! Let’s kneel before the Lord, our maker! He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his hands.” (7) My husband and I owned twelve acres for three years and on our land we raised goats and chickens. We never had any sheep, we had other farmer friends that did, but we learned a great deal from being charged with the lives of these animals. My husband was the primary caretaker for the goats and they grew to have such a bond. He would let them out of their enclosure and walk them through our field. He could call to them and they would come bounding through the tall grass. They were drawn to him, they trusted him, they loved him. My husband and I often think back on our goats fondly as we read Scripture. We thank God for God’s patience as we had many days we were frustrated with our farm animals. They would get themselves into all sorts of predicaments, but we would always tend to them, love them, and provide for them.
May we always hear God’s voice as sheep hear a shepherd. May we always remember that our Good Shepherd reigns and that there is great hope because one day “earth and Heav’n be one.” May we always be mindful of the songs we sing and to sing with shouts of joy. May we live into the Reign of Christ and share the love of Christ with all that we meet.
Psalm 95:1 (CEB)
Psalm 95:1 (CEB)
“Wesley’s Directions for Singing.” Discipleship Ministries. Accessed October 7, 2017. https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/wesleys-directions-for-singing.
Psalm 95:3 (CEB)
Psalm 95:4-5 (CEB)
“This Is My Father’s World.” Score Sheet Music | Maltbie D. Babcock / English melody. Accessed October 7, 2017. http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/This_Is_My_Fathers_World/score/.
Psalm 95:6-7a (CEB)
Co-Lead Pastor, Shawnee Church of the Nazarene