The Vicar writes...
The four Sundays of this month lead us to the end of another Church year and prepare us for the expectant and penitential season of Advent. They are part of what we now call the ‘Kingdom Season.’ Red is the dramatic liturgical colour and our readings and worship reflect Jesus’ revolutionary teaching about the Kingdom of God. The season ends with the Feast of Christ the King, when the Church proclaims Jesus as the risen and ascended Lord of all.
Today, for almost three billion people Jesus was and is the central person in human history. And yet in worldly terms he had none of the credentials we normally associate with great world leaders. He didn’t go to the best school. He wasn’t widely travelled. He wrote no books, commanded no armies and was put to death in the most cruel of ways as a common criminal. But two thousand years on he continues to reign in the hearts of countless men and women. He transforms human lives and communities for the good.
But for Christ the King the symbol of his reign was a crown of thorns. We see in him, not a world ruler who lauds it over us, or as someone to fear like the despots of history, but a king who becomes the servant of all. His glory is found not in riches, political spin and power, but in love, forgiveness and reconciliation. In the days of his earthly ministry he healed the sick, lifted up the poor and taught us what it means to be made in God’s own image, to be truly human. As Servant King he leads us to life in all its fullness.
This year we will celebrate the season of the Kingdom against the backdrop of the ongoing political turmoil that is the Brexit impasse. It’s clear that those who currently hold power in Westminster are as deeply divided as the nation when it comes to how we should respond to the narrow victory of the leave campaign three and a half years ago. There are those in parliament and outside who would want to turn the clock back to the pre referendum days. There are others who just want to get Brexit done, whatever the cost. One thing we all share, as leavers and remainers, is a profound sense of frustration at all the political infighting and parliament’s failure to resolve what has developed into a very real crisis for us and for Europe.
What we have seen these last few months has not exactly shown our nation’s statesmen and women in a good light. It began with the appointment of a new Prime Minister and his decision to prorogue parliament, which was found by the High Court to be unlawful. There was the letter the Prime Minister was compelled to write to the European leaders requesting a Brexit extension, which was delivered unsigned. There has been the spectacle of opposition parties and conservative rebels frustrating the government at every step of the way.
Most of us would agree that the Brexit saga has damaged the reputation of our mother of parliaments and those who hold power in Westminster. Some of us would go further and say that, in this age of populism and spin, there are no obvious statesmen and women to lead us out of the mess we are in, even if there is a general election next month.
As we reflect on all of this, and as we keep the season of the Kingdom, we would do well to reflect on the model of leadership and life Jesus offers to the world. He didn’t mix with those in the political or religious corridors of power of his day; he went instead among the poor, the marginalised and the outcast and he lifted them up with his promise that they would be heirs of his kingdom. His saving death on the cross revealed the glory of sacrificial love, human and divine. He continues to offer the world the gift of reconciliation as its ‘Servant King’. He calls those who follow him to love one another as he has loved us’.
Whatever our view on Brexit we are all citizens of the United Kingdom and, for the time being at least, of the European Union. This month Christians will celebrate how we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God. Jesus the King shows us that there is an alternative to the political rancour and conflict we have seen these last few months and which offers hope and healing to the world. It is the way of the greatest statesman the world has known, Christ the King.
with every blessing