Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Today we celebrate the last Sunday of the Christian Liturgical Year and it is fitting that it directly relates to Jesus with the Feast of Christ the King or otherwise known as the reign of Christ. I say either/or as often the images in people’s minds of monarchical rule are easily out of sync with how the reign of Christ operates e.g. at Jesus trial before Pilate, he says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” What then does Christ’s reign mean?
Our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel today gives us a clue as to God’s intention. That his rule is like that of a shepherd King. A God who guides, leads and cares fully and completely for the flock in his care. A shepherd King provides for the flock, leads them to abundant and safe pastures; seeking out the lost and drawing back in those who stray, caring for the injured and bolstering weaknesses. A shepherd king who cares for all “no buts” and has the respect and devotion of those who follow.
Likewise our Gospel reading continues this imagery of a shepherd/servant leader. Yet clearly spelled out in this passage are the responsibilities of followers to emulate the servant leadership of Christ: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, providing for those who go without. How this is lived out can be wide and varied, depending on the context of the community at any given time.
Today as we celebrate Christ the King, we are reminded of our own calling through baptism to be God’s children and thereby co-inheritors of the Kingdom of God. We too can share in the many tasks of living and sharing in the life the gospel can bring to this world.
May you journey well with Christ this week. How might God be calling us to follow faithfully as sisters and brothers of Christ in the mission of the church in the world?
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
In recent weeks I have heard a number of people comment that they believe the end of the world is coming soon. Now rather than scoffing at such thinking it is well worth a look at the various texts in Scripture we find in the Lectionary during these last weeks before Advent begins. Certainly the early Christians that Paul was addressing in his first letter to the Thessalonians thought so and in some ways why not. However, there is some thinking around ‘the end of the world is nigh’ that I would want to qualify with a few extra ideas.
1. It will come at a time no-one knows when. “The Lord will come like a thief in the night.” It’s only in God’s time, not ours, that the fulfilment of the kingdom will come to be.
2. What is important for us to do is to live the gospel now. Whilst the end time will come, it is not for us to know and cannot live in the future, only the pre sent. So, why worry about that now. It is responding to Christ’s call daily— listening, praying, doing and being that really count.
3. We must not succumb negatively to the predictions of future, whether predicated on sound reflection of Scripture, or wild theorising that tries to match-up and connect apocalyptic ideas with current affairs.
4. The church, I believe, to its detriment in various quarters has sought to use such future forecasting as a means of inducing fear and thereby a faith response. Whether that worked then or not, it certainly isn’t a way to do so now, particularly in western culture. We would have much more success by living the Gospel. To see that as something normal that people can do which truly makes a difference.
May you journey well with Christ this week.
Rev Cannon Ian Howarth is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of St Paul's Kyneton and St John's Malmsbury and is the team leader of the Central Highlands Cluster.