Sunday, 25 November 2012


"And in the days of those kings the God of Heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed"

(Daniel 2:44)

The Solemnity of Christ the King was established as a feast day by Pope Pius XI in 1925, as an antidote to the extremities of secularism. The intention was to proclaim Christ's royalty over individuals, society, governments, and nations. The feast also marks the end of the church year as the last holy Sunday in the west's liturgical calendar. As well as Roman Catholics, the day is observed by many Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians and the Russian Orthodox Church. It's necessarily a moveable feast, always falling between 20th and 26th November: the new church year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, no earlier than 27th. Today is the feast of Christ the King, 2012.
Regal titles are bestowed on Christ throughout the Scriptures: King of Israel, King of the Jews, the King Eternal, the King of Kings. Pope Pius wanted to remind Christians that ultimate allegiance is due to a spiritual ruler in heaven, rather than to any earthly supremacy. We live in an age dripping with hollow honours, "reality TV" celebrities, quangos and unquantifiable qualifications. I admit to voting in the recent local polls to elect a Police Commissioner only because my socialist background seems to compel me to use my vote in any election; seemingly only one of only a few hundred people in Brighton to do so. If you asked me right now to list the line of succession to the British throne beyond Charles and William, I would have to put down my cuppa and think about it for some time.

We currently "boast" a coalition government, clamping together two camps of voters who traditionally have little in common. Across the Atlantic pond, the newly re-elected president will have to sit down with a houseful of representatives who wanted The Other Guy to get in. Around the globe, armies, politicians and monarchs endlessly shape-shift into dictators and genociders. As blue-collar icon Bruce Springsteen, himself rather ironically referred to as "The Boss", observed about men and power: "Poor men want to to be rich, rich men want to be king; a king's not satisfied till he rules everything."
Privilege and power often lend themselves to corruption, but you and I and all the other common or garden folk are also fiercely ruled in other ways; by our fears and addictions, our debts and desires. It feels very credible as well as comforting to celebrate a king as a liberator, an advocate and a saviour; who finds a way into this world in a manger, on a donkey and through the breaking of a loaf of bread.

"Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him."
(Napoleon Bonaparte)

"I am within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life."
(James C. Hefley)

"I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very centre of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."
(H.G. Wells)

 "How Great Thou Art"  Eddi Reader

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