Revd Paul Salaman's Sermon for Christ the King

And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

 

Today marks the Feast of Christ the King, which, in terms of Church History is comparatively modern, but one that is proving itself to be more essential with every year that passes. The feast itself only began in 1925 by Pope Pius XI and found its way into the 1983 Revised Common Lectionary and so found its way into Anglicanism. The encyclical that first proclaimed the feast contained these words:

 

"If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God."

 

We are living in a time where the idea of truth is under attack. It is increasingly difficult within the public discourse to discern what is true and what is false. The battles we have seen over what has come to be known as ‘fake truth’ have exposed and continue to expose lies and deceit on all sides of government and media, from both those who claim to be advocates of the real truth, and those who are alleged to propagate ‘fake truth’. Whilst this has come to a head particularly in the United States, we are seeing it in our own nation too. The result of this is an increasing lack of trust in public institutions and the public discourse. Further still, even things which were once held to be true and unchanging are being challenged like never before. Think of the transgender debate about what constitutes gender identity for example. We are seeing an increasing policing of language and active censorship of history and culture which stifles debate by forcing a, supposedly, ‘moral’ vision of how society should be.  Think of the attempts to remove statues from public places, which by some is seen as an act of righting historical wrongs, but to others it looks awfully like trying to rewrite history by removing the parts we don’t like. How long before Christianity and the Bible are on the list of things to be removed?

I could go on, there is, sadly, so much fake truth, so many lies so much deceit it can feel impossible to identify what is actually true.

There is, I think, only one right and proper response to all of this, it is to direct ourselves back to the source of all Truth, Christ, our Lord and our King. St Paul reminds us today of Christ’s kingship over us:

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father as our mediator and advocate, it is to him alone that we appeal. He is the source of our truth. Christ, Paul tells us is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,  and above every name that is named ie. whatever the lies of this world, Christ is above it all.

Moreover, St Paul tells us that Christ is Lord over all time, not only in this age but also in the age to come

Furthermore Paul adds:

And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

 

Christ is in charge; he is our King not governments or anybody else. We submit ourselves to one Lord alone and that is Christ. Furthermore it is Christ alone who acts as judge, not anyone else, he ultimately is the one to whom we should be focussed. Our soul concern should be whether we are able to stand before Christ

 

There is a famous quote, the origins of which are, rather ironically, falsely attributed (!), but it is illustrative none the less, the quote says that:

 “During´╗┐ times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” 

 

As we live in a society which seems to have lost all sense of truth and reality, a ‘time of universal deceit’ if you like, then more than ever we need to assert our revolutionary truth that Christ is our King. Through prayer, through reading the scriptures, through worship, through taking the sacraments we uphold the truth that Christ is our King, and he is Lord over his body, the Church. a revolutionary act that charges us to love our neighbours as ourselves, care for those in need and welcome the stranger into our midst. A revolutionary truth that asserts first and foremost we are children of God and that Christ alone defines our relationships, our very way of being. It is only in the body of Christ, who is our king that ultimately we are all healed and made well. The lies of the world need not harm us, need not taint us, if we hold firm to the belief that Christ is our King. As Jesus reminds us in the timeless words of the Gospel of John, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free – Pilate’s weak response of ‘what is truth’ is the answer of a lost soul, one who is lost to the concerns of this world. For us, there is one truth, that Christ is our Lord, our Saviour and our King. That is something to which we should hold firm and assert this Feast day, and always.


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