The humanitarian plight of Syrian refugees and the terrorist threat of ISIS seem likely to dominate the cable news channels for weeks to come. But it’s unclear whether Christian preachers will continue to discuss these issues now that the season of Advent has arrived.
On the surface there is little connection between ISIS’s campaign of terror and a season that invites us to prepare for the return of Christ.
While my home church sang praises to King Jesus and also ran a food pantry, the Feast of the Reign of Christ boldly proclaims that the hungry won't be hungry forever. While others in the '60s juxtaposed sweet harmonies with earnestly social lyrics, Dylan conjured a complex vision of social upheaval—a vision both threatening and profoundly hopeful.
Reign of Christ Sunday is not
the most approachable lectionary theme. Should the focus be on the reign or the
one reigning? Should preachers assume each year that most people have no idea
why the feast exists? Is there a case for just glossing over it, preaching on
whatever suits you, and getting on with Advent?
Our eternal destinies hang on two phrases: “I was a stranger and you took me in” and “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” Jesus gives us two options when relating to strangers: we can welcome them into our lives or not. The Matthew 25 parable is about nations, not individuals.
They were no angels. Whatever else they did or didn’t do, or hoped to do, they hired strippers. Then prosecutor Mike Nifong charged them with rape, Duke University turned on the boys involved and the media feasted on what these white jocks gone wild had done.
While there is no royal family in the American political system, the political stars of our time exert royal power. We are very much the heirs of others who loved royalty—such as the elders of Israel who begged Samuel to appoint a king to govern them so they would be like all the other nations. But kingly rule does not come without cost.