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.
reign 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.
Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79 or Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 (Psalm 93); Revelation 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37 | Semi-continuous first reading: 2 Samuel 23:1-7 (Psalm 132:1-12, [13-18])
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 100; (Psalm 95:1-7a;) Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46
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.
Does our discomfort over God’s judgment come from the fear of taking sides? Or the fear of being found on the wrong one?
When I needed a childhood photograph for an upcoming staff retreat, I climbed up to the attic to forage among the boxes. There I found my earliest photo album, and in it a picture from my second year of life. Applesauce must have been on the menu that day. Whether it was the applesauce itself or the person feeding it to me one spoonful at a time, something led me to doze off. I fell asleep in the high chair and suddenly, “Click.” Instant photo-op. As a youngster, I used to think that was the funniest picture in the book.
I wonder and worry that people perceive Christ’s rule to be similar to the queen of England’s rule. Do we view Christ as one surrounded with the art and beauty of a tradition that is more antique than active? Do we see this figure of salvation as hopelessly outdated and practically mute in these postmodern times?
While Ezekiel’s shepherd is often on the move, any sheepherder will tell you that this is the exception rather than the rule.