‘Christ the King’ was given by Maureen Thorp on Sunday 22nd November 2020. It’s based on Matthew 25:31-46 and Ephesians 1:15-23. This was to an online congregation made up of folks from Bury, Heywood and Rochdale.
I was born and grew up in South Buckinghamshire not far from the River Thames which forms the boundary between Bucks and the Royal County of Berkshire and the Royal stomping grounds of Windsor and Ascot.
I don’t think that I have ever seen the Queen in the flesh but on our frequent visits to Windsor we would always check out the flag on the round tower of Windsor Castle to see whether she was at home. If she was there the Royal Standard would be flying and if not it was the Union Flag.
We didn’t go on holidays much but my parents always took time off for Royal Ascot where, if there was enough money they would meet friends in the Silver Ring, where, if they got a good place to stand they could watch the Queen and her guests walking from the course to the Royal Enclosure, and my step mother was able to see all the fashions of the day. No one could approach the Queen of course let alone touch her and she never spoke to anyone, just the occasional Royal Wave.
But this annual experience would keep mum going for months telling anyone who would listen just what the Queen and everyone else was wearing. Some were interested of course and some were bored to tears but it was definitely the highlight of the year.
Christ the King
So, there you have my limited experience of Monarchy. However, we meet today to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King – the last Sunday of the Church Year and the Gospel of Mathew, before Advent begins – a New Year and a new Gospel in Mark.
Today we hear from Matthew of the end of time when Christ will come with shouts of acclamation to judge the world. We hear the Lord Jesus himself describing that momentous event when Jesus – born into poverty; laid in an animals feeding trough as a new born babe; teaching on mountain sides; riding on a donkey and dying on a rough wooden cross will come in glory surrounded by angels and calling all nations to himself; coming as King and Judge.
And what will he do – will he parade through streets, wearing royal robes; will he gaze around him and give an occasional wave of recognition; will his angels act as security guards keeping his people at bay.
Well not according to the King himself who tells of his second coming and of his Judgement.
Will his questions be about wealth and power; about how much one has owned or how much influence another has had in this life?
Well again not according to the King himself for on that great day of Judgement, when nations flock to the King of the whole world his questions will be about Love – how much have you loved the people whom I love.
What have you done?
Have you fed the hungry; or given water to the thirsty; have you welcomed strangers and clothed the naked; have you cared for the sick or for those in prison. What have you done to show your love for me in caring for those for whom I care? For those for whom I lived and died?
There is promise of judgement; there is promise of a place in heaven for those who have cared, for those who have loved neighbour as self and indeed have loved neighbour as they love the Lord Jesus himself.
And there is promise of judgement against those who have failed to love and care for the hungry and thirsty or the strangers; who have failed to clothe the cold and naked or cared for those imprisoned in so many ways – not just those in actual prison but those imprisoned by any one of the many ways in which human beings imprison themselves.
The promise is that the righteous will inherit the kingdom prepared for us all by the Lord Jesus both in this world and the next and that the cursed will go to eternal punishment.
I don’t know about you but that scares me because I know that I have not always been righteous and that I have sometimes been uncaring so I kinda fall between two stools. Not always good, although I would want to be; and sometimes bad, although I don’t want to be.
Where will I stand before my Lord and King on the day of judgement? He doesn’t seem to offer a middle way – except of course he offered himself as that one perfect sacrifice. He offered himself for me and for you so that we may not perish but have eternal life. Not something to take for granted but something to be thankful for every day.
He stands between us and final judgement and will have mercy on us because, as we learn from the letter to the Ephesians 1:20-23 – ‘God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
He is our hope
So, this is our hope – the Lord Jesus is our hope and his mercy is for us and his forgiveness is for us all day, every day.
It is not a get-out clause, especially on this day that sees the end of a Church Year that has suffered just as much as the secular year. And when compassion and kindness are needed, when our neighbours are suffering and when we ourselves are suffering, we still need to reach out to all in need and offer love in practical and spiritual ways in the name of Jesus our Lord.
Christ the King is not unapproachable – he is close to his people, he listens to his people and he gives himself for his people every day. He is with us now – he accepts our worship, he hears our prayers and he touches us with healing and love.
God save the King – as the King saves us. Amen