This Sunday is Christ the King Sunday–the last Sunday of the church year, where we change the colors to white and affirm Christ’s kingship together before we go together into the darker season of Advent, where we wait for God to come and see all of those places we’re still waiting as the days get shorter and darker.
But that’s for next week. For now, we celebrate together Christ the King Sunday, singing music about Christ’s kingship and praying together about it.
But what does that mean? Christ’s kingship?
The theological answer is that it means that Christ is king of all. In Ephesians we read that Christ sits at God’s “right hand in the heavenly places,” with the right hand being a place of honor and power. Paul continues that Christ is over all things and above every name, with every thing under his feet. That is, Christ rules. Christ is honored above all creation, exalted so highly that he is allowed to sit in the presence of God.
Which is great, of course, but what does that really mean? Not just in terms of, you know, what it means to sit in God’s presence or what kingship looks like when we Americans live in a republic and have no bone-deep conception of it like the Israelites did, but what it means to us, in the midst of driving to work and Christmas shopping and 2 am phone calls and spending time with family.
The psalm for today has some answers. It speaks effusively of praise, repeating over and over the command to praise the Lord–but, specifically, it says to praise the Lord because of who God is. It starts off with calls to praise, to thanksgiving and joyful noise, but continues in verse three with, “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” It does the same thing again later, when the psalmist returns to calls to praise. For after the call to praise he continues with, “For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.”
We praise God, not because we are told to, but because it is our response to who God is and what God has done–it is our response to believing that Christ is king and rules over all.
And praise and worship doesn’t just mean what we do here on Sunday morning. It’s not just saying the liturgy and then going home and you’re done. As we read in the gospel this morning, we are called to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty and clothes to the naked, to visit the imprisoned and care for the sick. That–loving well, loving as God calls us to–that is worship. Worship is not just coming here every week; it is living out what we say and profess here together. It is loving the people around you. It is listening to God’s voice, God’s nudges and hints at who needs love that day.
And that worship in our every day life, that is how we celebrate Christ’s kingship. That is how we proclaim it.
So let us go, proclaiming Christ’s kingship in our words and our deeds.