Preparing to Preach or Not to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

cosmic christI usually have the presence of mind to book my vacation or some sort of continuing education event that takes me far away from the pulpit on Reign of Christ Sunday. Formerly known as “Christ the King Sunday” an attempt to move beyond exclusively male imagery for Christ (in whom there is no east nor west, male nor female) some church-folk have attempted to change the name of this festival to Reign of Christ Sunday. But merely changing the title fails to get  beyond the struggles I have with this festival of the church year!!!!

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, this year I am not prepared to celebrate Christ the King or the Reign of Christ Sunday. Instead, we will take a leaf out of Matthew Fox’s book and craft our worship around the theme of the Quest for the Cosmic Christ.

Cosmic ChristYears ago, long before I ventured to seminary, Matthew Fox’s book Original Blessing opened me to the wonders of Creation Spirituality. So, I eagerly worked my way through his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. I confess that my first reading of Fox’s tome left me in the dust of my own lack of understanding of traditional Christology. But even back then, without the benefit of theological training, I sensed something of the MYSTERY that I had always trust Christ to BE. I have returned to Fox’s work many times over the years and over and over again I have discovered a WISDOM that moves me beyond the limitations of the historical Jesus toward a more holistic vision of Christ, which like Fox I believe, has the potential to move us to a more wholistic relationship with Creation. I trust that the WISDOM of the Cosmic Christ will lead us into the Season of Advent so that we can be about the work of birthing the Cosmic Christ.

3 thoughts on “Preparing to Preach or Not to Preach on Reign of Christ Sunday

  1. Here’s our experience with it. This is from my book, but it speaks to what you’re saying. Interestingly, we had an intern a couple of years ago who insisted on preaching that day because she wanted to reclaim the ‘king’ language. Ah, the state of seminary education, even in Berkeley.

    A number of years ago, our worship planning team was wrestling with what to call Christ the King Sunday. We had been trying to move away from both exclusively male language and from
    hierarchical concepts of divinity. A beloved colleague, the Rev. Paul Brenner (now deceased) had come up with the title “The Feast of the Culmination of All Things in Christ.” I thought that theologically the name said it all, but when someone began referring to Jesus as “The Culminator,” I realized it wouldn’t fly. Our next attempt to reimagine Christ the King was to use the title “The Cosmic Christ.” But that was not well received by the congregation either. We finally settled on
    “Christ Anointed,” although I am not convinced that “The Cosmic Christ” is not the more
    appropriate title.

    • We are now using “Jesus the Christ Sunday.” This flows out of our Adult Education Classes where we are exploring the history of Jesus of Nazareth becoming identified as the Christ. Theologically challenging…especially when we examine the development of the theology of incarnation and begin to explore the limits of theologies that proclaim Jesus as a unique incarnation. LIving in the questions can be difficult within the confines of a confessing church!

  2. Pingback: Reign of Christ Sunday – sermons | pastordawn

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