COCU67B.Reign of Christ B

2 Samuel 23:1-7
David’s last words, celebrating the beauty of the one who rules righteously, and remembering God’s covenant with David and his family. This is all in contrast with godless people whose lives are wasted.
Psalm 132:1-12;
A Psalm in remembrance of David’s quest to build a Temple for God, God’s promise to David of an eternal dynasty, and God’s choice of Jerusalem as God’s “home”.
Revelation 1:4b-8
Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the first to rise from death, and the ruler of all kings. He has freed us by shedding his blood and has made us a kingdom of priests. He is the beginning and the end, and will be seen by all people when he comes with the clouds of heaven.
John 18:33-37
Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews. Jesus replies that his kingdom is not of this world. When Pilate seeks to confirm that he is a king, Jesus cryptically replies that it is Pilate who says so, but that he came into the world to testify to the truth.
(Bible reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Readings (print ready PDF – landscape, folded A4, double sided)
Pilgrim COCU67B.Readings.2018

Singing from the Lectionary
Church of Scotland – Starters for Sunday
Prayers and meditations based on Psalm of the day: The Timeless Psalms – Joan Stott

New resource: By the Well (this link is for the Reign of Christ; home page is here for more episodes). A weekly podcast based in Melbourne where a Minister and a Biblical scholar discuss the lectionary readings to equip preachers to proclaim the Word.

Components of worship – general (links to resources on this website)
Acknowledgement of Land
Prayer of thanksgiving
Prayer of confession/prayers of who we are
Words of Assurance
Prayer for Illumination
Readings Pilgrim COCU67B.Readings.2018
Prayers for others
Lord’s Prayer
Prayer of Dedication
Benediction and sending out
(Communion Hymns)

Other resources specific to Reign of Christ B
Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday is celebrated on the last Sunday of Ordinary time (last Sunday after Pentecost), before the beginning of Advent that starts the new Church Year. As the last Sunday of the Christian Church Year, Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday is the climax and conclusion of the Church’s liturgical journey through the life of Christ and the Gospel message. Its purpose is to celebrate the coming reign of Christ as King of the Earth and his completion of the renewed creation that marks the fullness of the reign of God. That hope is born from the entire life of Christ and his teachings that have been celebrated in the seasons of the Church Year during the past twelve months. In celebrating the Reign of Christ the King, this Sunday also provides an appropriate bridge to the new Church Year that begins the following Sunday on the first Sunday of Advent with an emphasis on hope and expectation, the longing for the coming of the Kingdom of God amid the darkness of a sinful world. As a bridge between the completed year and the beginning of a new year, Christ the King services often use Scripture and song to provide both a retrospective and introductory overview of the journey through the life of Christ and the Gospel message that the Seasons of the Church Year provides. This offers not only an opportunity for a worshipful reflection on the significance of the life of Christ, it also presents opportunity to remind people of the meaning of the various seasons of the Church Year.
(Source: The Voice)

Opening Prayer
Almighty God:
from the beginning of time to the end of eternity,
you have chosen to use your power and majesty
to love us, to redeem us,
to shape us as your people.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords:
you became weak so you could confront
the strength of sin and death,
confounding their ridicule
with your resurrection.

Spirit of God, resting upon us:
may your power enflame us with your peace;
may your peace touch us with your grace;
may your grace fill us with your hope;
may your hope lead us into your Kingdom. Amen.
(Source: Thom M. Shuman, Lectionary Liturgies)

Call to Worship (inspired by Revelation 1: 4)
We come diffidently
weighed down by the excesses and the sorrows
of the past.

Grace to you and peace,
from the God who is and who was
and who is to come.

We come hopefully
knowing that the presence of God
will not be limited
by our human constructs.

Grace to you and peace,
from the God who is and who was
and who is to come.

We come thankfully
discovering abundance born not of possession
but of the heart.

Grace to you and peace,
from the God who is and who was
and who is to come.
(Source: Katherine Hawker, Liturgies Outside)

Call to worship (inspired by Revelation 1: 4-8)
Grace and peace to you from the One who is,
who always was, and who is still to come –
the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end.

This is our God:
the One who loves us, and who gave himself for us;
who gathers us together in this place,
and bids us seek his face.
Let’s worship God together!
(Source: re-Worship)

Prayer of Praise
Let us praise Jesus Christ our king
for the wonderful things he has done.
He sends out his word to heal us.
He satisfies the thirsty with the water of life.
He fills the hungry with the abundance of his kingdom.
Let us praise Jesus, redeemer and renewer of all things.
May we always trust in his goodness and love,
And have faith in his grace and mercy,
May we always believe he cares about justice and righteousness,
And draw our life from his eternal purposes.
Let us praise Jesus Christ our king and saviour,
May we be filled with the hope and promise of his coming,
And give our lives to follow him.
May we be gripped by his kingdom ways,
And walk with assurance and trust into his grace and peace.
(Source: Christine Sine, Godspace)

Marathon (and the realm of God)
The marathon is like unto the Realm of God.
Everybody cheers for everybody.
No teams, no sides, no winners and losers.
(One person wins; the others just run.)
At the finish line some people raise their arms
as if they’ve won.
Some kiss the ground as if returning from Mars.
They have indeed won.
Every day people around you are bearing unseen burdens,
overcoming invisible challenges,
completing a story you don’t know.
You can’t judge their pace, or how far along they are.
Your job is to cheer them on.
Heaven, you know, is actually empty.
They’re all down here, unseen, crowded around,
yelling like crazy, cheering you on.
(adapted from Steve Garnaas-Holmes who wrote about his niece who ran the 2021 Boston Marathon. Full reflection here on Unfolding Light)

Prayer of dedication
You do not ask for much, Lord of life,
only our humility, and our open hearts.
Our hopes of a better world.
Our hands to serve you.
These gifts we bring,
hopeful that what we offer expresses our gratitude.
May these gifts help to show and share and celebrate your love throughout the world.
May your kingdom come. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
(Source: Tina Kemp, adapted, Church of Scotland)

Prayers for others – could consider using the Lord’s prayer interspersed with prayers for others (example below – other examples of Lord’s Prayer here)
Our Father who art in heaven

How blissful it is to imagine heaven on earth. But lives are always endangered. Poverty consumes many, hunger and disease destroy many. The bodies of young people are for sale. Mothers and fathers are migrating to foreign lands seeking freedom and dignity and new opportunities.
God, grant to us the experience of heaven on earth.
Hallowed be your name

Your name is holy, your people are holy. You created us in your image. But the dignity of the poor ones is crushed by those who whip the poor by laws and by rules. Your name was used by foreign powers. In your name colonizers invaded foreign lands. In your name they burned and smashed.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

We know that your kingdom is a kingdom of love, justice and of peace. A kingdom of righteousness and abundance for all. Do not allow us to be deceived by the standard of this world, where unjust wars rule and colonizers become rulers of the nations. Let your will be done soon, and vanish the pseudo-kingdom of empire power. Until we can finally say, heaven is possible here on earth.
Give us this day our daily bread

The bread that we eat today satisfies our hunger. But those who make the bread in many countries have empty stomachs. How can we be happy when our body is full while many are wanting? We have been told those who do not work should not eat. But how come, those who work hard have too little to eat, while those who amass wealth by greed have plenty to throw away ? May the daily bread we partake in be the communion of struggle and hope, and be the bread that is shared by all.
Forgive us our debt, as we forgive debtors.

We offer our self-criticisms. When we have failed to love You and our neighbour, renew us and enable us to make up whatever we have failed to do. Give us hearts that can share your grace by forgiving others. Let us be humble like a dove and make us wise as a serpent. May we be sustained in our courage, that we will not be manipulated by those who have wronged, exploited and oppressed your people. Forgiveness is for those who have admitted their accountability, for your grace is sufficient enough to correct our mistakes. But arrogance and conceit will lead us only to downfall.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Lead us not to resignation in our work for justice and peace. Let not cynicism rule us, but lead us to a deeper steadfastness to overcome evil in our midst.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.

This we believe. Let your power of love and the glory of justice and peace be with us all forever and ever. Amen.
(Source: Adapted, Norma.P. Dollager)

Pastoral Prayer
Create a throne room for yourself here, O Christ,
but let it be the empty seat beside the anxious
the lonely chair next to the confused
the vacant pew next to the hungry
and reign, O Jesus,
as sovereign over the forgotten

May your reign be a mockery to the world
but good news to those who seek out truth
and may we join them in the search
finding you walking the streets
or breaking bread
or sitting by bedsides

May we find you in border areas
on the edge of things
crossing over with the foreigner

May we find you among children
learning to finger paint
as teachers to those who long to enjoy life again

May we find you with the worried
silenced with nothing to say
and space enough to keep it

May we find you on the wrong side of the tracks
going where you should not
and finding a place to lay your head among the lost

May we find you singing our songs
of justice and peace
and removing your crown to do so

May we find you with a word that lives
in the hopes of the afraid
and a comforting peace for those who are broken

May we find you laughing at the powerful
unnerving what folk think so secure
while welcoming those who have nothing into your throne room

O Jesus, reigning in the world
with your upside down kingdom
may we find the faith to stand with you
sovereign of life
and servant of all
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Mucky Paws)

Christ the King
“Truth in advertising.”
“Truth, the first casualty in war.”
“Always tell the truth: there’s less to remember.”
“What is truth?” he asked: a question for every age.
Truth – something Pilate didn’t understand and maybe we don’t either.
Truth can be threatening when the way, the truth, and the life call into question
the perceptions on which we build our world.
Power – intoxicating, addictive, abused by kings, emperors, governors
and probably most of us even in some small way.
Powers like Caesar appear to hold ultimate authority
but appearances can be deceiving…
Christ the King – different from the kingship understood by Pilate and probably most of us.
Christ the King, the way, the truth, and the life: sovereignty in love and freedom.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, Billabong)

Words of Mission: You Call Us to Service
You call us to service;
to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this, your world.

To open our eyes not only
to the beauty and love which you create,
but the injustice,
hate and suffering that humankind generates.

To open our ears not only
to the chattering of this coming week,
but the searching,
fears and questioning of all whom we shall meet.

To open our hands not only
to those we choose our lives to share,
but in welcome,
love and fellowship to all who you draw near.

To open our mouths not only
to speak platitudes and simple words,
but the truths you lay upon our hearts.
Your Word for this, your world.

You call us to service,
to be your eyes and ears,
hands and voice in this, your world.
(Source: John Birch, Faith and Worship)

May God,
who comes to us
in the things of this world,
bless your eyes
and be in your seeing.

May Christ,
who looks upon you
with deepest love,
bless your eyes
and widen your gaze.

May the Spirit,
who perceives what is
and what may yet be,
bless your eyes
and sharpen your vision.

May the Sacred Three
bless your eyes
and cause you to see.
(Source: Jan L Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook)

Reflection by Christine Sine
I thought that this celebration must date from the Middle Ages, but discovered recently Pope Pius XI added it in 1925. He intended it as a day to celebrate and remember Christ’s kingship over all creation, as well as remind us that all humankind must submit to Christ’s rule.
As you can imagine, this celebration, especially in recent years, been a somewhat controversial day among those Christians who consider the language of kingship outdated or oppressive. For many, the images of kings and kingdoms conjure up thoughts of tyrants. But the kingship of Jesus takes on a very different form than does the kingship of earthly rulers. He came as a vulnerable infant and carried that vulnerability into his kingship of servanthood. Jesus’ comes to us not as a great conquering military leader who oppresses and abuses the conquered. Rather, he comes as a servant king, the Prince of Peace, the One whose reign proclaims peace, justice, liberation, and above all, service. Jesus turned the whole concept of lordship and kingship on its head
You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to become great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:42-45, NAB,).
Images of God, as Lord and King seem foreign in a democratic, individualistic society. But our all-powerful God, is also all-loving, and all-merciful. God’s heart aches to once more be in a loving relationship with his creatures. This is what Christ’s kingship is all about. We must submit to Jesus as our Lord and King, but it is a submission that paradoxically brings with it liberation, freedom from sin and a life of wholeness for us, for others and for God’s world.
Jesus knew the popular images of kings and lords and redefined them. In God’s resurrection world, in order to be a ruler of all, Jesus must become a servant of all. Jesus demonstrated this servanthood in his life and miracles. Even the Incarnation is an example of this: God the Son, King of all creation, humbled himself to become human, even sharing the ultimate fate of his captive subjects: death.
Interestingly, most references to Jesus as king occur during the Passion story. The symbol of Christ’s kingship is not a crown but a cross. The Son of God became human and died a horrible death on the cross to release his subjects from captivity. He made this ultimate sacrifice out of his deep and abiding love for the world, a world constantly in rebellion against him. Christ’s kingship is not like a king with a jewel-encrusted crown in purple finery on a gold throne wielding an oppressive rod of iron. Rather, he is the crucified God with a crown of thorns hanging half naked on a cross of shame to set us free from our bondage.
(Source: Christine Sine, Godspace)

Is Jesus really a King?
This Sunday Marks the end of the liturgical calendar, with what is known as the celebration of Christ the King.
As much as the church, and even the Christian tradition from the earliest days, proclaimed Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is far, very far from what Jesus said about himself in the Gospel narratives. In fact, it could be argued that Jesus refuses to accept any title as king in his response before the Roman Authorities, “it is (only) you who say that I am a king”.
Kings in ancient times, like some nation-states and some corporations in our time, have power, have wealth and can lord it over others, and even can justify competitive violence to promote their causes. Now there were kings in ancient times, like nation-states and corporations that do provide welfare for their citizens and employees. But the exploitation of others for the benefit of the few, Jesus had no desire to be a part of any such systems, or, to replicate such systems or power structures, particularly with him named as the head.
I would argue that Jesus of Nazareth was no King, nor is it helpful to see Jesus in such a light. James and John came seeking positions of power in what they thought was a coming kingdom, Jesus rebukes them, saying in that God’s people will have no part in that power that lords it over others, – lording it over others is not on. This was true for Jesus and the community he was teaching. Jesus goes on saying that “if you desire to lord it over others, focus that desire on serving others instead. If you need to be the best, be the best at serving others.
Jesus was not about wealth or building his own business or empire. Rather a wholeness of life in trusting in the abundance of the God of creation for all. The gospels illustrate this in the story of the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler was asked to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor, which was too much for him to do, to truly share in the life of God. This is just as challenging today as it was two thousand years ago, if not more as we are so dependent on the economic systems of our day. Jesus is not an economic king or ruler.
As for violence and war, an open justification for competitive behaviour that seeks to remove or destroy the ‘other’ as a threat is a powerful human motivator. We may not see as much bloodshed in the political and corporate world’s power games today, as it did in the ancient world. Still, some of the justifications of nation states for so-called defence and peacekeeping efforts in the articulation of a clear and present danger should cause concern for Jesus followers (war on Iraq is one example, in which Australia was apart of the coalition of the willing). This way of violence continues. (Today, terrorism is seen as this clear and present danger, and then religious and/or ethnic groups have been labelled within this grouping by some) What is remarkable, is when Jesus is encountered by ‘violent removing the other’ this at his unjustified arrest, one of his disciples responds in a violent act for the sake of self-protection. Jesus says, put away your swords, those who live by the sword, die by the sword. And then remarkably reaches out to the so-called enemy with healing in his hands. Now that is compassion. Today we could say those who live by the gun, die by the gun. Jesus is nonviolent, compassionate and is not about seeking the destruction of the other, but rather that we learn to love even our enemies until they become friends.
Jesus is no King, no CEO, no Prime minister, no commander and chief. Jesus is Jesus, who shows us a Way that is love, gift and grace for all. The early Church did call him King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but this was not to elevate Jesus to any higher status as a super King or super Lord, it was to make a mockery of the powers of the day that failed to see all humans and all creation beyond the exploitation frames. This Jesus way of mutual love and respect, neighbourliness and the collective and individual focus on the common good was a way of life in stark contrast to any example of Kings or Lords.
Following Jesus as a disciple means not confusing Jesus for power and control, but rather a way of life that is about fullness of life and life to the full for all.
(Ben Gilmour, Facebook post, 2018)

Hymns for this Sunday – Natalie Sims lists TiS 547 Be thou my vision. The music is SLANE, of Irish folk origin. (MI­DI, score) which explains the words for the hymn. Slane Hill is about ten miles from Ta­ra in Coun­ty Meath. It was on Slane Hill around 433 AD that St. Pat­rick de­fied a roy­al edict by light­ing can­dles on East­er Eve. High King Lo­gaire of Ta­ra had de­creed that no one could light a fire be­fore Lo­gaire be­gan the pa­gan spring fes­ti­val by light­ing a fire on Ta­ra Hill. Lo­gaire was so im­pressed by Pat­rick’s de­vo­tion that, de­spite his de­fi­ance (or per­haps be­cause of it­), he let him con­tin­ue his mis­sion­ary work. Could be a great final hymn, especially with this background to introduce the hymn.

Thom Shuman’s liturgy with communion: Thom Shuman – Reign of Christ

Service of communion – tracing the seasons of the liturgical year from Advent to Reign of Christ Sunday

Pilgrim 2018 midweek service Pilgrim COCU67b.Midweek.2018

Pilgrim 2018 combined service Pilgrim COCU67B.Christ the King.combined service.2018

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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