When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!" The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, "If you the King of the Jews, save yourself!" There was also an inscription over him, "This is the King of the Jews." One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we dserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.
In many churches, today is known as "Christ the King" Sunday. It is also the last Sunday of the Christian year - the culmination of everything we have learned and celebrated over the course of a year. Next Sunday starts Advent, which marks the beginning of the Christian year when we start again with Jesus' birth and spend the year telling his story.
This year, as I reflect on Christ the King Sunday, I am struck by the language of a monarchy. As an American, the idea of a King is something that seems far removed from my everyday life. Kings are, to me, either historical, something to be read about in history books, or, in this case, religious, something to be read about in the Bible. Yet as I prepare to begin a new life in the UK, it strikes me that here, a very human monarchy still exists. Someone asked me a couple of weeks ago how I felt about having a Queen in my new country and honestly, I didn't know how to respond, as I had not really thought about it before.
As a Christian, I subscribe to the idea that while we are in this world we are not of it. While we exist under human-made governments, and yes, human-made monarchies, these power structures do not have the final say in our lives. Rather, by acknowledging that Christ is King, we acknowledge the ultimate power Christ has for us. Christ reigns over and above any humans our societal structures imbue with power. Our ultimate loyalty, as Christians, is not to our government or our monarchy, but to Christ.
How do we show that loyalty in our every day lives? How do we acknowledge that Christ is King not just with our lips, but with our hearts, thoughts, and actions? May we live our lives in such a way that it is clear to all who know us, that we acknowledge Christ as King.
God of all, we pray to you through Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, the King of Kings. Help us to let Jesus rule in our lives and have the ultimate power over us, rather than any powers of this world. Amen.