Soon, we will be in the season of Advent, where we prepare for the coming of Christ as a baby on Christmas. The readings during Advent remind us of the end of days, which will usher in the reign of Christ. The purpose of Advent is to prepare us both for the coming of Christ on Christmas, and for the second coming at the last day.
Before we can get to Advent, we have one more Sunday to wrap up the church year. Reign of Christ Sunday (or Christ the King) is a day to remember just what kind of realm Christ will usher in when the time comes. I far prefer the name “Reign of Christ,” as the idea of kingship is completely unrelatable for most modern audiences. Very few of us have experiences with monarchs who are anything other than a figurehead. So, if we are to celebrate the Reign of Christ, then our task as preachers is to make the imagery understandable for our congregation. As we ready ourselves for the arrival of Christ, what kind of preparations should we be making? What kind of ruler can we expect to meet?
The Revised Common Lectionary Gospel from Luke 23 relays the story of the crucifixion. If Jesus is meant to be a king in this passage, he is also perceived as a criminal, and is executed as one. His kingship is epitomized when he offers grace to one of the criminals hanging next to him. Christ is a gracious king. But what about the other criminal? Is Jesus the kind of king who expects people to come to him asking for help before he grants it?
The messages on this Sunday can be confusing. Colossians tells us that Jesus is the image of God, the firstborn of creation. He holds all things together. What does this mean? I’d like to think that we can see Christ reflected in every stone and leaf and person we encounter in the world. How does this lesson relate to the Jesus that we meet on the cross in Luke?
In the Hebrew Bible lesson from Jeremiah 23, God begins by judging the people who have scattered the faithful, and ends with the promise of a savior for those people, who have now been gathered back together. There are two choices for a psalm. Psalm 46 names God as a refuge and strength, while Luke 1 promises that God brings mercy, peace, and redemption. Which one will you use?
Each of the lectionary readings for this week suggest their own preaching themes, as does the occasion itself. What will be your focus this week? Please share how your community will be celebrating the reign of Christ this weekend. Ideas for preaching, liturgy, and children’s sermons are most welcome! Happy worship prep!
Katya Ouchakof is a chaplain, writer, and paddlesports professional in Madison, WI (USA). When not contemplating the reign of Christ, she enjoys playing board games with her husband and reading books to her nephew and niece.
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