Our New Testament reading for this week is not a very long one. It’s only four short verses, yet somehow it is one of the most beautiful pericopes I’ve read in a while. It demands the attention of its hearers. These verses, although from one of the most misunderstood books of the Bible, are perfectly clear. The Lord is the one is and who was and who will be. Christ is the faithful witness, the one who rules over all, even over all the kings of the world. Every eye will see him; every tribe will acknowledge him. He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. This short pericope reminds us why we celebrate Christ the King Sunday.
Now I’m going to do something that could get me in trouble. I am going to disagree with NT Wright. I am shocked that I would dare to do such a thing, but it seems necessary. In his book For All the Saints? NT Wright discusses how he does not like Christ the King Sunday and how he believes it is actually causing damage to the Church. I disagree with him, but it may be because I have seen Christ the King Sunday in a different light than he has seen it. Wright discusses how he has seen Christ the King Sunday used to say “at the end of all things Christ will be king” rather than Christ is currently king and will continue to be king! If that is how churches and pastors are preaching Christ the King then yes, NT Wright is correct and we need some adjustments done.
I don’t believe that many churches are celebrating Christ the King that way though. I believe that most churches are celebrating Christ the King the way that is shown here in the Revelation. Yes, Christ will be king, but also that Christ was king, and that Christ this very moment is king! This pericope reminds us that the rule and reign of Christ is not something that is coming at the end of history, but rather that it is something that was and is currently present. The Lord reigns, the Lord is the one is and who was and who is to come! The kingdom of God shall have no end; it is all encompassing; it needs not be only looked forward to, but also looked presently upon, and reflected back upon. The kingdom of God and the reign of Christ is not something that is coming, but is something that is here and will also be there!
We need to celebrate Christ the King. NT Wright would like us to scrap it, but I think it would be better if we could help our churches see the true value of it. This is not a holy day to celebrate a day to come, but rather it is a holy day that reminds us that at the very end of all things one thing has remained constant and will forever remain constant – Christ is king! Christ is a good and faithful king who has been with us through it all. Christ is not just a future king that will one day come, Christ is the current king who has reigned forever and ever and will reign forever and ever. “I am the Alpha and the Omega!”
We celebrate Christ the King on the last Sunday of the Church year as a way to remember not an event (the coronation of Christ at the end of time as Wright argues some churches do), but rather as a way to remember a FACT. As we end the year, we reflect on how Christ has been faithful to journey with us throughout the year and throughout our lives. We reflect on how Christ is faithful to us today, was faithful to us yesterday, and will be faithful to us tomorrow. He is the faithful witness who has reigned with grace and mercy, who is reigning with grace and mercy, and will reign with grace and mercy. Thanks be to God.
Every king must have a kingdom, though. It is there that you and I come into play. The kingdom of God is all around us and we are called to give faithful witness to it. We are members of the kingdom and we are called to show others this glorious kingdom that they too are a part of even if they don’t realize it. Part of what Christ the King Sunday does is remind us that the kingdom of God surrounds us both in time and place and that we are to help others see the reality of it. One day every eye will see Christ as he truly is, the king of all over all through all and in all. Christ is king. Let all rejoice for the kingship of Christ has been good, is good, and will continue to be good throughout all eternity.