Church of Christ the King (Iglesia Cristo Rey), Guanajuato, Mexico. Photo by Xicoamax.
Used by permission. CC BY-SA 3.0. This church sits at the geographical center of Mexico
as a sign of resistance against previous efforts by the government of Mexico to suppress all religious symbols,
especially Christian symbols, and impose secularism and atheism. It was this period of
oppression that led to the celebration of Christ the King Sunday across the global church, Catholic and Protestant.
See the texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.)
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Para obtener más recursos leccionario, Estudios Exegético: Homiléticos.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24.
To the people scattered in exile in Babylon (Iraq), the prophet Ezekiel declares the word of the Lord: "I will seek out my sheep… I will rescue them… I will bring them into their own land." To the Babylonian rulers, God announces that it is God, and not they, who will judge the covenant people, and that God, and not they, will establish a shepherd over them, a descendent of David.
Psalm 100 (UMH 821).
"Old 100th" is also available as a hymn, UMH 75. If you use the Psalm setting, use Response 1 with Tone 3 in F Major (737).
Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus of the glorious inheritance of all believers. The same power that raised Christ from death and placed him above every imaginable power is at work on our behalf.
The final public teaching of Jesus. At the Great Assize,” the final Judgment, the King to Come, seated upon a throne and surrounded by the angels, will judge all based on how they have treated "the least of these."
Today is Christ the King Sunday. This marks the close of Ordinary Time after Pentecost, as well as the conclusion of the “standard” Christian liturgical year. This day was first celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church in 1925 in response to attempts by governments in Mexico and elsewhere to declare themselves the ultimate authority in the lives and even the religions of their subjects. The image above of the Church of Christ the King in Guanajuato, Mexico, captures the celebration of the Mexican people set free from a period of oppression as a sign of Christ the King who looses every bond, breaks every yoke, and sets captives free.
Today functions as is a “segue Sunday.” After today, we move from the end of one liturgical year to the beginning of the next, from Ordinary Time to Advent, from readings in Matthew to readings in Mark.
All good segues create both closure and room for a new opening. Typically, they spend slightly more time on closure, then move toward the end to the new opening. If you think about this in terms of the basic pattern of worship, consider focusing on closure/summary/celebration of Christ the King through the first three movements (entrance, word and response, Communion), then moving toward opening into Advent in your selection of the final hymn, benediction and act of sending. The sermon could easily lean toward Advent as well, as today’s gospel reading is set in the Advent time of the second coming and final judgment.
If you are already celebrating Advent, today may mark more of a flexion point than a segue. You may have approached these first three weeks as an introduction to the major themes of Advent (apocalyptic theology, second coming, judgment, new creation). Starting next week, with a different gospel, the focus may start to be more on how awareness of the end of all things prepares us for the celebration of the Incarnation that we keep during Christmas Season.
Plan to celebrate Holy Communion on this day. See “A Great Thanksgiving for Christ the King Sunday.” See also this Call to Worship and this Service of Scripture and Song that recapitulates the whole Christian Year
Today is also the Sunday in National Bible Week on the UM Program Calendar. Consider how you may use the ending of this church year today to gain pledges of church members to read the Bible daily in the coming year. An excellent guide is Steve Manskar’s A Disciple’s Journal 2015, which includes the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings for every day of the year. These readings bridge from Sunday to Sunday. You will read texts preparing for the coming Sunday from Thursday through Saturday. From Monday to Wednesday, you will read texts that expand on the readings from the past Sunday. The Kindle version (coming soon) includes live links to the Scripture readings for each day. .
Thanksgiving Day (USA) will be observed this Thursday, November 27, 2014. See the United Methodist Book of Worship 416. New for 2014 is “Thanksgiving Celebrations for the Home.” You can find it, and our many other resources, in our Thanksgiving section.
All Month: Native American Heritage Month
November 23: Christ the King Sunday; Bible Sunday in National Bible Week (November 23-30) (USA)
November 27: Thanksgiving Day (USA)
November 30: Advent (Regular) Year B Begins, United Methodist Student Day
The “regular” Christian New Year begins with next Sunday, November 30. We move into Year B of the lectionary with its focus on Mark’s gospel, the stories of David’s family, and the epistles of Ephesians, Hebrew,s and James
Discipleship Ministries has an archived webinar you can view yourself or with your planning team, a complete handout of the slides for the webinar, and a planning article exploring the texts in depth. The webinar provides at least five different approaches for Advent and Christmas Season planning to help you and your congregation celebrate each as fully as you can, as well as links to hundreds of other Advent-related resources on our website. For more specific guidance for planning Advent, see “Planning Advent for Year B” on this website.
November 30 is also United Methodist Student Day, with a special offering designated.
Remember on both of these major Sundays—Christ the King/Reign of Christ and Advent 1, that programmatic emphases of Bible Sunday and United Methodist Student Day should always take a back seat to the major festivals of the Christian Year. See The United Methodist Book of Worship, pp. 422 and 434.
Atmospherics: What Kind of King Is This?
Throughout Ordinary Time, the readings have not been selected intentionally to coordinate with each other. Today, and throughout Advent and Christmastide, and again through Lent and Eastertide, all of the readings do connect to each other.
Last week’s gospel reading prepares us particularly well for this week’s texts and celebration.
This week’s readings cluster around the larger issue of the kind of king Jesus is. This week’s reading from Ezekiel has been understood from the earliest days of Christianity to point directly to Jesus, descendent of David. Here we see him as a shepherd intent on gathering sheep scattered by an oppressor, healing them, taking them home, and restoring them to their own pastures. In Ephesians, Jesus, the crucified and risen one, now rules over all thrones and powers and dominions. And in Matthew, we see him as judge proclaiming the primary criterion for inheriting the kingdom prepared from all time by the Father: whether people lived his way by truly serving the least.
In each of these texts, the world’s usual expectations of kingship are turned upside down. Rather than staying put and expecting the loyal subjects to come to the king’s abode, this God and King goes looking for them (Ezekiel). Rather than achieving his position through acts of violence or self-aggrandizement, Jesus is enthroned as the crucified one, not by his own ambition, but by God’s power (Ephesians). Rather than looking for signs of worldly success to determine the degree of God’s blessing, Jesus looks for whether we have blessed those left unblessed by the rest of the world (Matthew).
From Matthew, too, remember and in this segue or flexion week, call upon last week’s characterization of Jesus as “unethical landowner.” He is tough, intent on reaping where he did not sow, gathering where he did not scatter. He looks for that spirit in others when he stands as judge at the last day. It is this spirit, intent to invest in the poor and offer compassion to the oppressed so regularly that one hardly even notices doing it any longer, that he seeks in us.
How we are to respond to our king does stem from “usual” expectations of kingship. The citizens of a realm are expected to “look like” their king, just as the disciples are expected to look like and live like their master. As we do, we become inheritors of God’s kingdom ourselves. As we do not, Jesus says we may expect to find ourselves “cast into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
So who looks like this king where you are? What’s happening in the life of your congregation that looks like a shepherd going after scattered sheep, healing them, and bringing them home? Where do you see not simply Jesus, but his crucified (not necessarily successful!) body being exalted? And beyond the liberal/conservative and grace/works divides (can we get out of our dualistic thought-paradigms long enough just to listen to Jesus here?) where do you see the least being cared for as such a matter of course that folks even seem to forget they’ve done it?
All those unlikely places and people are the sources for exalting Jesus as King today. They are the signs that he really is as the gospels proclaim, as Paul describes, and as the prophets foretold. These are the signs to be seen, the good news to give thanks for, the raw materials of our praise in song and art and dance and around the Lord’s Table this day.
Look. Listen. Feel this power at work around you. And help your congregation rejoice in our King!
- BOW 420 (Reign of Christ/Christ the King)
- BOW 450 (Psalm)
- BOW 452 (Psalm)
- BOW 454 (Ezekiel)
BOW 460 (Matthew)
Acts of response to the Word:
- BOW 421 (Christ the King)
- BOW 508, Psalm of the Woodlands (Matthew, Christ the King)
- BOW 511, Prayer for God's Reign (Christ the King)
- BOW 522, Prayer for Purity (Matthew)
- BOW 529, Prayer of Saint Patrick (Matthew)
- 69, United Methodist Hymnal: For True Singing (Psalm, Matthew)
- 74, United Methodist Hymnal: Canticle of Thanksgiving (Psalm)
- 323, United Methodist Hymnal: The Ascension (Epiphany)
- 721, United Methodist Hymnal: Christ the King
- BOW 476 (Matthew)
- BOW 481 (Matthew)
Concerns and Prayers:
- BOW 522, Prayer for Purity (Matthew)
- BOW 546, Prayer for Those Who Suffer (Matthew)
- Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger
The Great Thanksgiving:
- A Great Thanksgiving for Christ the King Sunday
- BOW 70-71, "The Great Thanksgiving for the Season after Pentecost"
Prayer of Thanksgiving if there is no Communion:
BOW 555 (Psalm, Matthew)
Dismissals/Blessings/Benedictions: Blessing: BOW 564 (Matthew)