Sunday, 20 November 2022

Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ

Jeremiah 23.1-6 I will raise up shepherds over them so they fear no longer.

Colossians 1.11-20 The Father has created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves

Luke 23.33-43 ‘Today you will be with me in paradise’


‘Thou art the King of Glory O Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father’




‘Thou art the King of Glory O Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father’.


These are the stirring words in the ‘Te Deum Laudamus’ an ancient hymn of the Church sung on great occasions, and traditionally at the end of the Office of Lauds, the first office of prayer of the day.


Te Deum Laudamus means ‘We praise thee, O God’, and today we praise God for the Kingship of his Son, Jesus Christ.


The Feast of Christ the King – or ‘The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe’ to give it its full title - is one of the newer solemnities of the Church.


‘Christ the King’ was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, and embraced by the Church of England over half a century later.


The date 1925 was not an accident, for that was the sixteen hundredth anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, the great Council, or meeting of the Church, which, in 325 AD, formally defined the consubstantiality of Christ with the Father; in other words, in the mystery of God, Father and Son are wholly one.


This mattered, and matters today, because it affirms that Jesus Christ is fully and truly divine, not created by God, but is of the very essence – the substance – of God.


As Jesus says in St John’s Gospel, ‘the Father and I are one’ (John 10.30).


Hence why we can say, ‘Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father’.


But having a feast of Christ the King is not without its detractors.


Not unreasonably, some have argued that we don’t need to celebrate Christ the King because the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord covers that base: for, when he ascends into heaven, Jesus Christ is proclaimed as universal king over all creation which is perfectly true.


Today helps us consider the bearing that the Kingship of Christ has on us as we live our Christian lives today.


There are three areas we can focus on today.


First, the cross is the throne of Christ the King: a throne of love and not of dominion.


His sacrificial death on the cross, laying down his life that we might live, has above it the twisted, ironic words of Pilate that for us are deeply true, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ (Luke 23.38).


In the cross we see such love, love that surpasses expectation and comprehension; love he gives his all for his people.


That’s why St John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople in the fourth century, gazing at Christ on the cross declares, ‘I see him Crucified; I call him King’.


Second, it’s about politics and where our allegiance lies.


The political establishment of Jesus’ day was Roman.


The loyal Roman citizen would say ‘kaiser kurios’, ‘Caesar is the Lord’,


Political stability was found under Roman authority and Roman power, the so-called Pax Romana.


For the first Christians the death of Jesus on the Cross and his Resurrection from the dead meant that they would declare not ‘Kaiser kurios’ but ‘Jesus kurios’, ‘Jesus is Lord’.


The Ascended Lord Christ the divine universal King is Christ the King of all the earth.


His sovereignty is not removed; it is real and connected in our lives.


He is the one to whom final allegiance is due, and by whom our lives are properly ordered.


There are many things that seek to claim lordship in our lives: ideologies, disruptions, the ‘temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil’.


All the time the Christian holds onto the declaration ‘Jesus kurios’, ‘Jesus is Lord’.


What does it mean to you to say Jesus Christ is king of your life? What does the world look like when Jesus Christ is acknowledged as King over all creation? When saying yes to Christ, that he is Lord and King, what do you have to reject and turn away from?


Finally the Kingship of Christ has a bearing on our national life today.


Next year we will witness an event that has not be seen for 70 years and traces its from back to St Dunstan and the coronation of Edgar in 973 (13 years after Elfsie is the first recorded priest of Croydon).


The coronation of the British Sovereign draws on Biblical images of Kingship rooted supremely in the Kingship of Jesus Christ.


Perhaps the most sacred element of this sacred rite is the anointing; a rite straight out of the Old Testament and validated in the New: the word ‘Christ’, Χρήστος in Greek means the Anointed One.


Our King, who by virtue of baptism like you and me, shares in the life of the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, will be asked to hold before him the example of the Servant King, the forgiving King, the loving King.


By God’s grace, we pray, that the King will be a mirror and exemplar of service to our national and local political life, in our families and places of work and in all places we people come together.


So then, to say, ‘Thou art the King of Glory O Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father’, is to say that, Jesus Christ, who is one with the Father, reveals his Kingship on the Cross; that, for the Christian, Christ must be sovereign in our lives; that the Kingship of Christ shapes our common life in his ways, such that we say ‘Jesus kurios, Jesus Rex’: Jesus is Lord; Jesus is King.


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