Archdeacon Pete Spiers, Sunday,
20th November, 2016
For the last 18 months or so, our evening news seems to
have been dominated by who is going to the
next President of the US, the 'so-called' most
powerful man on earth. Something we can still say now that
Hillary was not elected. Whatever you think about
the outcome of that election, another sermon in
itself, today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday
and its an opportunity to explore what that means for us.
The image of King is not always helpful. At worst, we
think of tyrannical rulers, cruel emperors and
absolute despots. At best, we think of constitutional
monarchies where genteel royal figures are more symbolic
than powerful such as our own. Yes it is the Queen who
issues our currency, appoints our Prime Ministers and our
Bishops and signs our laws but we all know that whilst she
could refuse to do all these things, she wouldn’t really.
She must have signed things which she didn’t really agree
with but that’s her job isn’t it, not to intervene?
So when they were putting together the lectionary for
today, what gospel reading best illustrates the image
of Jesus as King? How about a crucifixion
scene. Like the one behind the high alter here:
someone stripped and suffocating, wracked with
unimagineable pain, someone mocked and insulted by those
standing round, someone hanging between 2 criminals,
derided by one and honoured by another. We ought to be
Jesus’ main message was about the kingdom of God and all
along he’d tried to make clear that the kingdom is not
what you expect: it’s a mustard seed, a treasure hidden in
a field, yeast that disappears in the dough. He has not
behaved as you would expect a King to behave: touching
lepers, eating with those despised by polite society,
treating women and children as his equals. He has not
be afraid to upset the religious leaders and politicians
and those in authority.
This scene reminds us of his testing in the wilderness
where Satan tempted him. ‘If you are the
Son of God, tell this stone to become bread’.
‘If you worship me, all the kingdoms of this
world will all be yours.’ Standing on the
highest point of the Temple: ‘If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here’.
Now people sneered at him: 'He saved others, let him save
himself, if he is the Christ of God'. The soldiers
too: 'If you are the King of the Jews save yourself’.
Jesus had already asked his Father
to forgive them because they did not know
what they were doing. He could have ended the
pain and suffering for himself. The irony is that he
could have save himself but because we needed to be saved
as well as loved, he stayed exactly where he was.
The kingdom of God is most concerned with the lost, the
last and the least. So when
the criminal said: 'Jesus remember me when you come
into your kingdom’, he recognised his solidarity
with him in his suffering. The criminal
recognised Jesus as being someone who saw his suffering,
who was willing to stand in that suffering with him, who
spoke up against his suffering.
In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard claims
that we all have our little kingdoms in life. ‘A
kingdom’, Willard says, ‘is any area of life where my will
and my desires determine what happens and what does not
happen. In our homes, at our places of work, we all
have little spheres of influence, little patches of this
earth where we make a kingdom for ourselves, where we try
to arrange things so that what we say, what we think, what
we believe determines the shape of life’. But the
kingdom of God is where God’s desires, God’s will and
God’s intentions rule. The kingdom is real and it is
The kingdom is present wherever people pray the way Jesus
taught us to pray.
is present wherever people live out the fruit of the
is present wherever people baptise children or adults or
receive bread and wine simply because Jesus told us that
this is the way we are to act in remembrance of him.
is present wherever a believer somewhere refuses to go
along with something she knows is wrong and that going
along with it would not be what Jesus wanted.
is present whenever and wherever someone refuses to cut
corners on his taxes, someone listens to a grieving
neigbour and offers a word of reassurance, whenever and
wherever someone helps a refugee or asylum seeker.
is present because the effective will of Jesus is being
May each of us today think what it means in our life
to bend the knee to a king who exchanged his crown
for a cross.