Happy New Year! Yes, you read that correctly - it is not a typo.
This week is Christ the King Sunday and it is the last Sunday in the liturgical year, as we step into Advent from next week onwards. Even though it is a little confusing, the rhythm of the liturgical calendar takes us on the journey and the movement from Christ the King Sunday to Advent is an important shift to acknowledge.
From next Sunday we start the Advent journey, patiently listening as we lead up to the birth of Jesus. Every year Advent shares with us of the ‘humanness’ of Jesus in all its beautiful simplicity. So, before we start the ‘human’ journey of the Christmas story once again, we are called to ‘end’ our year with the ‘divine’ story of Christ the King.
The scripture we are given for this Sunday comes from The Book of Isaiah. I am not sure whether you are left confused, but when I first read the scripture I was left with a lot of questions as we were introduced half way through a storyline. Not only was this a little confusing, but contextually the imagery and language that speaks to the character of God is quite jarring in some places. Rest assured these descriptors of God are very contextually appropriate; though the more we learn about justice - specifically through the nature of Jesus - and what it means for us today in a world pained by colonial powers, these stories of ‘nations’ and ‘who’s side is God on’ become very troubling for people as they start learning more about the Christian faith.
And so this reading leaves me in a funny place for this Sunday as this reading ‘bookends’ us with two moments of goodness, while in the middle we are left to unpack descriptors of God character that might leave some people feeling a little uneasy. But before I give away my whole sermon for Sunday, I want to just leave us with the prophetic words that are spoken through this passage, that remind us why this is our reading on Christ the King Sunday: Verse six declares that a child will be born and they will be called ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.’ We are told that they will establish peace, righteousness and justice.
And so if we find ourselves walking in the footsteps of this King, in what ways are working toward the goals of this Kingdom? The goals of establishing peace, righteousness and justice from this time onward and forevermore?