Christ the King Sunday, Year A
A father, tired after church, pretended to be asleep in his recliner. His kids tried their best to wake him from his Sunday afternoon nap, so he would take them on the promised walk. Finally, his five-year-old daughter climbed up into his lap and pried open one of his eye lids. Turning to her brothers, she said, “Oh, good! He’s still in there.” 1
Although God is like a loving Father; he does not grow tired and fall asleep on us. Unlike the daughter who wondered if her father “was still in there,” we as God’s people need not wonder the same thing about God, since today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday. Today we celebrate God’s divine and sovereign rule over us—the LORD is in control of our lives, of earth and heaven, even though we tend to doubt or forget this truth. We can place our trust in God, for our ultimate security is not in ourselves, others or anything in this world—rather, it is in the LORD our King.
In today’s psalm, we learn it was this same God that ancient Israel trusted; in the LORD they place their ultimate security. It is, I think, quite fitting that Psalm 100 is one of the chosen lessons today. This psalm is rather contagious in its celebrative mood. The psalm is divided into two sections—verses one to three form an invitation, a call to worship the LORD; verses four and five moves us inside the temple, where we celebrate and bear witness to God’s nature and Holy Presence.
“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth,” says the psalmist; “Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.” Joy, gladness, and singing—this sounds like a celebration doesn’t it? As God’s people we are called to be joyful. Life is not to be “the same old, the same old,” no; life is, through and through, a joy because of the beauty and wonder, the incredible diversity and mystery of it all; which is a gift from God.
Ancient Israel was very familiar with all of this—they therefore could be filled with joy and celebrate in their worship of God because they were given a glimpse into the heart of things as though a door from heaven opened; and we also share that joy when we celebrate and worship the LORD our King.
Psalm 100 is indeed a very fitting one in which to end our church year. Even though it does not directly refer to God as King, nonetheless, it serves as kind of a doxology to Psalms 93-99, all of which celebrates and affirms God’s divine Kingship. Psalm 100 is indeed a doxological hymn of joy and singing, praise and thanks to the LORD our King.
In verse one, “all the earth,” all the nations, along with Israel are invited to join together in their hymn of joy and praise. This reminds me of an experience I had back in the 1980’s, when the World Council of Churches met in Assembly at Vancouver. I was privileged to be able to attend the opening worship service. What a fabulous, remarkable service it was too! What stands out in my memories of that worship service are two things. First, the vast variety and diversity of people who were there—peoples of nearly every race and nation, speaking a wide variety of languages and dressed in clothes of many different colours and styles. It was a wonder to behold, which touched the heart with joy and gratitude to the LORD our King who has called all of these people to be members of his realm. Secondly, this worship service moved me deeply as I had the opportunity to hear a wonderful and huge choir singing to our God. Once again, I was struck by the beauty and wonder and diversity of that choir as they sang together in unity and harmony. This for me, was what we refer to in our Holy Communion liturgy as “a foretaste of the feast to come,” when all of us will be reunited together from all the far-flung corners of the world in Christ our King’s eternal kingdom; filled with unspeakable joy in the Holy Presence of our LORD. That worship service also taught me that our joy in the LORD is always there wherever and whenever we gather together to worship our God; to be renewed and transformed; touched and healed; filled with awe, wonder and gratitude by the Holy Presence of our King; so that our unity of faith, hope and love might continue to grow and flourish. Joy is always present because time meets eternity whenever we worship and serve Christ our King.
Moreover, in our joy, gladness and singing; in our offerings of ourselves, our time and resources as well as our praise and thanksgiving; we bear witness, along with Israel to God’s covenant faithfulness; God’s steadfast love, which endures forever, to all generations. In a world of growing violence and hostility and hatred; in a world of chaos and evil; the LORD our King’s covenant faithfulness still remains. He is still in control. His promises are completely trustworthy.
Ancient Israel as well as those Jews today who continue to live under God’s covenant with them; have trusted in God’s promises. They faced many hardships, sufferings, temptations, and dangers—yet, God was there with them; God is still there with them. In spite of the hatred, violence against them, in spite of pogroms, in spite of the Holocaust, in spite of all the present fanatical Muslim terrorist organisations which would like to destroy them—the LORD our King is still with the Jewish people to bless and protect them; and they trust in God’s covenant faithfulness. So it is too for us Christians—over the ages, our people have also faced many hardships, sufferings, temptations, and dangers—yet, God was there with them; God is still there with us too and with those Christians facing persecution, hatred, violence and terrorism; we and they are called to trust in the covenant faithfulness of Christ our King. He has promised that he will be with us always, no matter what. He is the LORD of all history. His Kingdom will prevail when all others die. He is faithful, we can trust him completely, now and always, because one day his perfect rule of peace, justice, mercy and love will come in all of its fullness. Amen!