Shownotes: Christ the King and Are We Truly Ready for Advent?
Acts 2:32–36. Jesus Christ is Lord, Christ the King.
Jesus is Lord. This pronouncement has been and continues to be a death sentence for many in the face of earthly rulers who desire to reign supreme. Yet, they and we too, say it, affirming Christ’s superiority over earthly rulers and all powers. We affirm Christ’s eternal reign. We worship him.
Christ the King. We just celebrated that Sunday. The liturgical church year has ended. What a note on which to end it—a day to remember who Jesus is and in remembering, take up our position of humble worship and surrendered servanthood as we turn to the new year and Advent.
Christ the King. Jesus is Lord over all, even if and when the darkness seems to encroach for the darkness cannot put out the light.
Christ the King. Jesus is Lord and nothing can change that reality. It is a great anchor as we turn to Advent, a time of waiting.
Advent, a time to slow down and wait with anticipation. Slowing down when the world says, speed up. And why does it want us to speed up? To shop and get the sale items which are coming earlier and earlier each year. Speed up to part with our money. Speed up to get the latest gossip. Speed up to join the latest cause. Speed up to be in a hurry to join the latest reason to be affronted. Speed up to speed up because . . . sometimes it seems as if we’re all being herded to be in a hurry to go nowhere. And in the midst of it all,
Christ the King. Jesus is Lord. A great reminder that Advent is on our doorstep, a time of preparation. Yet, who cares? Who cares when we can’t wait to sing our favorite Christmas songs because well, we only get to sing them once a year? Who wants to take the time to prepare for a king who will return . . . well . . . someday . . . we don’t know when? Who wants to do that when there are many kings and lords to whom we can give our allegiance now? When there are so many earthly rulers that will promise us the world and give us . . . nothing, yet we’re too blinded to realize we’re holding zero.
Christ the King. Jesus is Lord. A timely reminder that Advent is upon us. A wonderful season to reaffirm that Christ has come and Christ will come again. There is great responsibility with that affirmation, to live as God in Christ requires of those who would follow; the responsibility to live here with our minds on things above; to align our values with the king who came as a lowly servant. But . . . perhaps it gets in the way of the festivity of Christmas that’s borderline frivolity. Who wants to deal with that kind of responsibility before God when we get to play cute shepherds and angels and Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger with the cows and the whatever else we think of; throw in a few wise men for good measure. Get enmeshed in the magic of our celebratory pageantry without necessarily considering glorified majesty. Still,
Christ the King. Jesus is Lord. Because he lives we too shall live. But, that’s Easter. We’re getting ready for Christmas. These are the weeks leading up to Christmas. Don’t you get it? Don’t you get that Christmas is what matters? Do you mean that after all this time you still don’t know that it’s shopping and parties and feeling good and . . . we don’t talk about that stuff now. Keep the seasons separate. And Jesus . . . Jesus is the baby not the Lord. And in the midst of it all, we hear the distant song by Charles Coffin, seeking to penetrate our consciousness and remind us of the enormity of what lies before us at the beginning of the liturgical church year:
On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
announces that the Lord is nigh.
Awake and harken, for he brings
glad tidings of the King of kings!
2 Then cleansed be every life from sin:
make straight the way for God within,
and let us all our hearts prepare
for Christ to come and enter there.
3 We hail you as our Savior, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward.
Without your grace we waste away
like flowers that wither and decay.
4 Stretch forth your hand, our health restore,
and make us rise to fall no more.
O let your face upon us shine
and fill the world with love divine.
5 All praise to you, eternal Son,
whose advent has our freedom won,
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Spirit, evermore.
This is Christ the King, the Lord, on whom we wait and for whom we prepare; who has come and will come again; through whom we have life and light.
How do we keep our focus so that our Advent time is one of true anticipatory waiting and preparation in the midst of the craziness of life? For make no mistake, very few people are interested in Advent, even in the church. It’s that thing that we sometimes don’t quite know what to do with. It kind of gets in the way sometimes.
So if you are a pastor or ministry leader how do you lead so that the mystery and beauty and awe and wonder of Advent is real? How do you lead your congregation, the people in your ministry setting to use this time to focus on Christ the king and the hope we have in him of his return; to prepare ourselves, yea, our very hearts for that second coming? How do you help them to slow down and step off the speed-up express when they are bombarded with email after email, and mail cards after cards about the next bargain, the next thing to buy? When they are confronted with the next reason to be aggrieved and angry and . . . How do you help them to commit or recommit to this Lord, to pledge their allegiance to this king above all earthly rulers? How will you help them to hold in proper perspective the pageantry against the promise of Advent?
For Advent is a time of promise. It points beyond us to a time we can see with the eyes of faith. And it reminds us of the work we have to do here as we wait: Luke 19:11–13:
Do business. It’s a wait with activity but not activity to be busy for the sake of being busy. It is activity that is purposeful, oriented toward that which gives life, for Christ the King, the Lord gives life to those who call on him.
One of the traps that we may fall into when thinking of Christ’s return and our waiting and preparation is that of trying to figure it out—the when, the where, the how. Especially the when. Many have fallen into error right there. For some reason, it’s hard for us humans to come to grips with our limitations; to understand that we are not God and therefore we will not know everything; don’t need to know everything. Pride, you know.
Thus, Jesus helped the disciples and helped us just before he left: Acts 2:6–8.
So. We’ve got business to do, but it’s not to spend time and energy on trying to figure out when Jesus is going to do his thing. We are to do business with what God has given us in the power of the Holy Spirit as witnesses for Jesus with our words, our actions, and our attitudes.
As part of doing this business we set aside intentional time to be in a state of waiting and preparation, with love, joy, peace, hope, and all that. We watch the world doing their thing and seek to bring them the message so that they know Christ is king. So that they know that there is a Lord who has died and risen again for their salvation; who has conquered death, who loves them and when they come under his reign, they can live without fear and face the world with confidence and peace. So that they know that God invites them to live from God’s center where there is complete joy and peace.
Christ the King. Jesus is Lord. We start the year again, the liturgical year. Advent. Living into its significance. Living into its promise. It starts with us doing so, then Helping others to do the same.
If you do the wreath and lighting of the candles with reflection and prayer, your people know that Advent is here. What do they know and understand beyond that? Are there some teaching opportunities there?
What about the hymns you sing and the Scriptures you read. Do they signify Advent or do they send the message that we need to hurry up and get to Christmas; that Advent doesn’t matter?
Christmas is important. It is very important. However, it is neither the beginning nor the end of the story and if we rush into it, we may be left with the tinsel but miss the Lord now and in the future. As Aurelius Prudentius translated by John M Neale and Henry W Baker described it,
Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!
Christ is King, the Lord of all and he will reign for ever.
Do an informal survey to see how well people understand Advent and prayerfully fill in any gaps there may be. Examples of simple questions that you can use:
- Why do we have Advent?
- What is its meaning?
- What does it mean to you?
Photo credit: Didgeman / /Pixabay.com
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