The readings on which this sermon is based can be found at:

s201e04 Lockleys Christ the King 21/11/2004

'in (Christ) all things hold together' Colossians 1:17

This seems a particularly appropriate reading for the Anglican Church at this time. There seems to be all sorts of discussions going on and talk of realignments. It is interesting to me that much of what is being discussed, is being done behind closed doors. Things that are secret (and probably risqué) are all the more exciting!

I confess to being a bit bemused by all the bru ha ha. As if God cares if the Anglican Church divides into factions. Yet my own bemusement must be tempered by these words from St Paul. And they are not just St Paul's words alone, Jeremiah, in our first reading pronounces a curse on 'the shepherds who .. scatter the sheep of my pasture.' Unity is not an optional extra; it is central to God's plan.

The difficulty is that some Christians are so right that they can hardly associate with others who are different to them. The multitude of denominations testifies that Christ must be in all of them or none of them! How do we read these words as Anglicans and seriously think that God is being successfully hoodwinked and is entirely unaware of the divisions and politicking that goes on? Do we really think that God is such a simpleton?

But the difficulty is that St Paul is here speaking about the whole creation. His words are: 'In him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers.'

So, like it or not, we are intimately linked to every one and every thing else. It is not that this is true if we think about it and appreciate it being so. It is Christ himself who holds us together. To distance ourselves from anyone else, is to work against what Christ wants.

So the unity that we are called to not work against, is the unity we already have, one with another, as well as us and the whole of creation.

I am sometimes amused that we rejoice being a sheep of God's pasture. I suppose one sheep can instantly tell one sheep from another, but to me all sheep are much the same. Of course I did see different sorts of sheep in Britain, but I couldn't tell one from another within the same breed. Yet we are all unique in the eyes of God, but that's got far more to do with God's eyesight, than any merit on our part.

Sheep are not noted for their doctrinal acumen! God loves us for who we are not the way in which we believe. To postulate that there are orthodox, christian or anglican sheep, which have a special place in a flock, to the exclusion of others, is bizarre.

Today is the last Sunday in the Ordinary Sundays of the liturgical year. The theme is Christ the King.

The essence of kingship is actually impartiality. The power that a ruler wields means that the ruler is beholden to no one. Proper judgments are delivered regardless of wealth or influence. An upright judge would immediately disqualify him or herself if he or she knew one of the plaintiffs.

If human judges act like this, do we think we are going to be treated with special favour at the expense of someone else because we call ourselves Anglicans or Christians? This would be a complete denial of the nature of God.

So God loves all people equally, and yet much of what passes for christianity often seems about getting into God's good books, by our faith, or our works or whatever.

Different people have their different criterion. There are those who say that one must speak in tongues, believe in the infallibility of the Bible, the literal account of Creation in Genesis {as if there is only one account!} or have had a particular form of conversion experience. Of course it's obligatory to tithe :-}

Each and every one of these denies the goodness of God and if we deny God is good we are treading on very dangerous ground.

So implicit to our faith in God and Jesus is that God cares for other people as well as us. And I actually wouldn't worship a corruptible ruler - even if it were me who had the means to corrupt him or her.

This is who God is and the gospel accounts make it quite clear that it was precisely because Jesus associated with others, that so scandalized the religious people who had him killed.

We are bidden to see the unity, and the attempts humanity makes to deny this, in the name of the Almighty.

In recent times there have been efforts to take away the Almighty tag from God. I suspect that this is because reigning implies conquest. Someone, and usually someone else, is put down. So evangelicals can often sound as if when we proclaim Christ as King; Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and especially liberals are all going to be put in their place.

This means that the whole universe is (supposedly) founded by a god who has initiated corruption in the one name; the one that we alone as Christians possess. Again, this seems rather different from the God I worship.

Matthew Fox talks about Christ who connects disparate things; things that seem like oil and water; unable to come together. In the incarnation the word made flesh connects the divine with the human. In his ministry Jesus connects his person with that of ordinary humanity. And he goes on to imply that this ministry continues as Christ brings all things together. When "christianity" wants to separate one from another, it is standing on that beach trying to stop the tide coming in. This is God's work and we expend much energy fruitlessly opposing God. ("The Coming of the Cosmic Christ" quoted in "God in all Worlds" Lucinda Vardy p 838)

And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in the Phenomenon of Man writes: "By a perennial act of communion and sublimation, (Christ) aggregates to himself the total psychism of the earth. And when he has gathered together and transformed everything, he will close in on himself .." (God in all Worlds p 836)

So let us worship Christ as King this day, but with the proviso that the truly righteous King has the welfare of everyone at heart, not just a select group of persons. Let us worship Christ as king knowing that in Christ we are joined to each and every individual who exists, and we work against Christ as we deny that this is so. With Christ as King, no one loses or is excluded, and for me, this is a cause of great rejoicing, for any god that is supposedly otherwise is actually illusory.

Back to: "A Spark of the Spirit"