Reign of Christ
To you our Lord, Father Son and Holy Spirit, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of all our hearts be acceptable - Amen.
Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord.
These are the words that the Prophet Jeremiah was given from God to speak to a people that were not following God’s will and ways in the world
A people that were following Kings that were having their ears tickled by false prophets telling them whatever they thought the King wanted to hear
A people that were on the fast track to exile
And a lone voice - Jeremiah - telling them what they didn’t want to hear and warning them of a hard path that was ahead of them.
They didn’t listen to Jeremiah and they did get taken over by the Babylonians
and they were in exile for a long - long time.
Does this passage of scripture - of prophecy - have any relevance to us today?
If you look to the newspapers this past week - there is a lot happening in our Anglican church. The Church is becoming divided into two camps
One that calls itself ‘progressive’ is pushing … and winning what they call a justice issue
Our diocesan synod last week approve the following motion
Request that the Bishop to allow clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same sex couples, where at least one has been baptized, and to authorize the rites for such blessings.
The other that calls itself “conservative” has had a conference in this very city the previous two days to undergo the re-structuring of the Anglican church
to provide what they call ‘an viable option for biblically minded Anglicans to remain in communion with the world-wide Anglican Church
Are either of these groups ‘the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture?
Which God says ‘woe to the shepherds’
Is there such a thing as one Christian church which has cornered the market on the truth and the other which is leading the sheep astray?
Martin Luther said:
‘If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not professing Christ, no matter how boldly I may be professing Christ.
A challenging statement to be faced with
If we are to take what Martin Luther says seriously - then we can not hide from the pressing issue of the day - in fact we can not hide from whatever the main pressing issue is of any day.
But what is the truth… and how are we to know it?
What is our measuring stick for God’s truth?
How are we to judge truth and trust it to be the truth?
Is there one truth
I suggest that we all need to prayerfully, respectfully and patiently address the matter in the fore front of the church
Because I believe we haven’t yet
We have talked and acted a whole more on the ‘next steps’ and how each side might achieve their own vision for the church
and we have talked and acted a whole lot more on the ecclesiastical ramifications
We have moved forward and not done the hard work of truly listening to each other to fully understand the truth that each represents
But today we celebrate an 82 year old tradition, instituted by Pope Pius the XII
Today we celebrate Christ the King or also known as The Reign of Christ
And our passage today also provides God’s response to those false shepherds with a promise
Jeremiah also spoke God’s words in the following statement:
5The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land… this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
The days are surely coming
The days are surely coming
The messiah, the righteous branch of David is prophesied
And we Christians know it to be Jesus the Christ - that fulfilled these great words of scripture - God’s words of promise
No longer is Caesar … Lord … - but Jesus is Lord
The Reign of Christ comes at the end of the liturgical year as a message of completeness
The whole year is over and we celebrate Christ’s Lordship over it all
For me, by claiming to be a Christian - I believe that I am actually claiming the reign of Christ - everyday in everything
Our passage from Colossians says it in so many ways
What we discovered in our Bible study this past Friday morning was St. Paul restating the message in whatever way he could think of in the hope that one would connect with his readers
Or thought a different way - that St. Paul was trying to cover all aspects, to express Jesus as Lord over everything
In fact look at how many ways St. Paul expresses it
“Everything” in verse 12
“All creation” in verse 15
twice “all things” in verse 16
“things visible and invisible” also in verse 16
again twice “all things” verse 17
“in everything” verse 18
“all” verse 19
& “all things” verse 20
Today the Word of God proclaims clearly that Jesus the Christ is Lord
But it doesn’t end there, not merely are we told in many different ways that Jesus is Lord over everything in all creation - but we are promised more
The payout if you like, is so much more then ascribing to God’s rule and authority of everything
We are told that:
o He has enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light
o He has rescued us from the power of darkness
o We are transferred in the kingdom of the beloved Son
o We have redemption
o The forgiveness of sins
o Through Him God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things… on earth or in heaven
This is truly the Gospel - this is life transforming good news
Whatever that is dark in your life = rescued
Uncertain of things = transferred in the kingdom
Feeling overwhelmed by pressures of life = redemption
Sins - big or small - long forgotten / buried or recent guilty burdens = forgiven
Reconciled - all things on earth or in heaven
How? - “by making peace through the blood of His Cross”
This is what the Reign of Christ is all about - This is why we complete the year with the final Sunday in celebration with the day called ‘Christ is the King’
Today we also recognize and celebrate an important ministry of our Anglican Church
A ministry which at its core is all about the reign of Christ
Today we lift up to you PWRDF Sunday - Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
You will find information in the Parish Hall after the service about PWRDF
If you were to go to the main “PWRDF.org” website you could see
News Releases about how they/we are involved in many areas of the world; such as Asia Pacific, Emergency Response - Cyclone Sidr - Where PWRDF collaborates with other Canadian Churches to respond to affected families in Bangladesh.
PWRDF’s main campaign this time of the year - titled “Take the Lead” on World AIDS Day 2007
This year's theme of leadership encourages you to "Take the Lead" in responding to key issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. Issues such as stigma and discrimination; access to medicines; and better prevention, treatment, support and care.
You can read more about:
o African Stories
o Asian Pacific Stories
o Canadian Stories
o Ecumenical Stories
o Moral Economy Stories
o Women Stories
o Youth Stories
Just to name a few
Their Mission statement is that
PWRDF is a response by Canadian Anglicans to the gospel call to bear witness to God's healing love in a broken world. Inspired by the vision of a spirit-filled community of hope, PWRDF walks together with partners in Canada and overseas to share in the creation of a more just and peaceful world. In joy and struggle, the Primate's Fund engages in development work, responds to emergencies, works to protect refugees, and educates and advocates for change.
Their Vision Statement
Communities fully restored to right relations based on God's call for peace, justice, and the dignity of every human being.
The work of our Church in the world is only possible if we view the world everyday as ‘Christ the King’ Day
Everyday it is possible to vision and work towards the ‘Reign of Christ’
And so I will close with the opening words of from our passage from Colossians; which I see as a blessing:
May you be strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power
And may you be prepared to endure everything with patience,
While joyfully giving thanks to the Father. Amen - Alleluia