In the past fifteen years, I have only preached on Reign of Christ Sunday twice. I usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event for this festival of the church year. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east or west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But neither title gets away seems to suffice in a pluralistic world.
Born in an age that was birthing fascist regimes, this particular festival of the church clings to it’s christian imperialist past. Instituted in 1925, by Pope Pius XI, (you can read the full proclamation here) the festival was designed to remind the world that Christ is the King of the World. The irony of proclaiming Christ as “King” when the life of Jesus of Nazareth positively denies “kingliness” seems lost on the church. The appropriateness of asserting Christ over the religions of the world lacks the kind of humility embodied by Jesus of Nazareth. So, even though it’s too late to book a vacation, I for one would rather not have the task of preaching on this particular festival.
I was tempted to welcome the congregation on Sunday morning with something like: “Welcome to what I hope will be the last celebration of Reign of Christ Sunday here in this place.” But I suspect that between now and Sunday, I will find it within myself to be somewhat more circumspect. I suspect that rather than proclaiming Christ as the King of the World, I will look at the reign of the current rulers of the world and explore the contrasts between their reign and the justice that Jesus of Nazareth lived and died for. This video clip seems like the place from which to begin writing the sermon.