Welcome on this last Sunday of the church year as we celebrate 'The Reign of Christ the King'.
Make way Make space
Make time Make peace
The Lord your King is close
The King of Love is near
The Prince of peace approaches
Make way for Christ the King
Our first hymn is 129 The Lord is King! Lift up your voice v1,2 and 5
Prayer adoration and confession
Alleluia to you Oh Lord our King, You are robed in majesty and girded with strength.
You are the God who is and who was and who is to come, and reign over all that come before Your throne. Lord Jesus Christ, our Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the dead and ruler of all. You put right the wrongs against Your children
We praise your name, O lord our King.
For loving us and freeing us from our sins by Your blood and making us Kingdom priests and priestesses serving God our Sovereign,
To You be glory and Dominion forever
Jesus You are the ‘Alpha and the Omega’, the Almighty; rescuing widows, orphans and those in bondage; reigning in victory, coming in the clouds.
To You be glory and dominion forever.
Loving God on this day we celebrate Christ as King, yet fail to let Him reign in our lives, our thoughts and deeds. We spout vain words while in His name we conquer. impose dominion and injustice and far too often we do not make time to pray. On others we impose our own will, not Yours, especially on the weak, poor and vulnerable. We design rules to satisfy ourselves, our wants, our desires and discriminate against those who do not fit our idea of humanity.
Lord we have wronged You. Forgive us and help us to begin again, to love again and to live again the faith we would claim.
The Lord’s prayer
Today is also Crossreach Sunday. Crossreach is the social care arm of the Church of Scotland and works through the many departments to pick up the pieces of broken lives. Only this week I received a letter from them which included a story of abuse of a young girl in a disfunctional family. So it is not inappropriate the this week sees the beginning of 16 days against gender based violence especially looking for the elimination of violence against women and girls who make up the large majority of victims. There is a web site called ‘Thursdays in Black’ which will provide more information about the decades long initiative. On it I found a powerful poem which references incidences from the Bible . You can find this if you follow the resources link and scroll down to prayers and look for ‘We stop in our tracks’ or ask Trish gentry for a printed copy.
It is a sensitive subject but as a woman growing up in the 60s when some forms of sexual harassment were considered normal ways of behaviour and as a Christian very aware of current events I could not ignore it. It is why I chose the next hymn and for those without access to a hymn book I will quote a couple of verses.
1 : Pray for a world where every child
finds welcome in a sheltered place,
where love is tender, undefiled,
and firmness intertwines with grace.
4: Pray for a world where all have voice
and none will batter, rape, abuse.
Till then, may all have rightful choice
and pray for wisdom as they choose.
Bible readings; 2 Samuel 23;1-7
John 18; 33-37
Rev 1; 4b-8
Sovereign Lord though we are in awe of your power and Majesty we remember that you also came to serve and so we remember today the example of servant hood displayed in the work of Crossreach. Through the many different services it offers it helps, supports and encourages those finding themselves. in difficult circumstances and recognises their personal needs and aspirations and helps them to achieve the highest quality of life which they are capable of achieving at any given time. So we give thanks for the work and the care of all the staff and volunteers and ask for your blessing and comforting presence on them and for all that they serve.
Some years ago I can remember Ian Clark leading worship on this Sunday, the last Sunday of the church year and commemorating Christ the King. As he so often does Ian asked a question, querying what picture came into our minds when we thought of Christ in glory. For some reason the picture that came immediately to my eyes was the Graham Sutherland Tapestry in Coventry Cathedral. Now that is really quite strange. The closest I have ever been to Coventry Cathedral was on the merry-go-round of a ring road I was desperately trying to get off, preferably in a northerly direction. Perhaps I had seen the tapestry depicted in a book or on TV and it had stuck in my subconscious mind. Had I ever visited the building no doubt I would have purchased some explanatory literature that would have helped with all the detail woven in to this huge work of religious art. I can tell you that it is 23 meters tall and 12 wide. Apart from the strong green background for something depicting ‘Christ in Glory’ the colours are somewhat subdued. When I think of royalty I tend to think of richly coloured velvet and ermine, shining gold and sparling jewels as seen in the cinema newsreel of nearly 70 years ago; of paintings of monarchs of old painted by the best artists of the time to show them in full regal splendour.
Our reading from Samuel concerns David, someone who rose from being a shepherd boy to becoming a powerful ruler and remembered as a great king. I can’t help thinking that King David quite liked a bit of bling, but it was important I suppose, that people could easily recognised who and what he was and that his appearance had to stand out from the crowd. David’s career was very much liquorice allsorts and at time words in common parlance today often come to mind. You fill in the blanks - but he does give God the respect and glory due and where would we be without the Psalms.
The verses from the beginning of Revelations gives us a brief but but concise sense of Christ in Glory and the words and phrases that have become part of our worship language; ‘ruler of Kings’; ‘Alpha and Omega’; ‘the Almighty’.
In the account of the Transfiguration and of the Ascension, light and cloud come into the description of something indescribable. But let’s look for a moment at the Gospel passage. Jesus has been questioned by the high priest who doesn’t get the answers he is looking for. But now Jesus comes before Pilate, the Roman governor, who first asks him outright if he is the King of the Jews. He goes on to ask “What is it you have done?”. I have never really thought about this question on its own before until it was put into the context of ‘blame culture’. Pilate can’t see what Jesus has done to deserve the fate his enemies want for him. His understanding of kingship cannot encompass the explanations given. Jesus has to have done something wrong, he must be at fault. Do you hear the echoes today when there is so much of a perception by so many people that a victim of violence or abuse must have done something to deserve or cause what has happened to them. Jesus, King of kings, Lord of Lords did not deserve what He suffered but He did it for us. So as the Advent season begins next Sunday, let us remember what we are really waiting for; enjoy the carols and the mince pies and the glitter and sparkle that light up these short, dull days and wait eagerly for the day we celebrate the Light of the World coming to earth but not just on one day but every day. Look for the Glory of God and His Son where ever you can find it and be surprised and heartened by some of the places you might find it. The greatest glory is beyond our imagining but there is much to see until that comes.
Hymn 172 Sing for God’s glory that colours the dawn of creation v1,2
The prayers of intercession were written by Margaret McTavish
Even as we give thanks and praise for all your goodness and mercy shown to us here in this sanctuary we come before you with our prayers for others, both near and far, known and unknown to us.
We pray, O Lord, for PEACE for the many nations in conflict across our world, torn apart by war, violence or unjust rule; for peace for peoples living under extreme conditions and with the greatest humanitarian needs; especially we pray peace for the children of these lands.
Lord hear our prayers
We pray, O Lord, for WISDOM and JUSTICE for all who rule over others; those in positionsof power in any form; for those making decisions on behalf of others.
Lord hear our prayers
We pray, O Lord, for CALM in the face of unrest between nations; for calm in the face of rivalry between those of opposing views; and for calm in the face of misunderstanding between policies, peoples and families.
Lord hear our prayers
We pray, O Lord for REST for the weary; rest for the sick and dying and rest for those whose tirelessly care for them, institutions or at home, being your hands and feet here on earth and showing your love.
Lord hear our prayers
All these we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour
Hymn 459 Crown him with many crowns v 1,2
Christ is King,
but there in the background
(can you hear it?)
the whisper of the prophets.
Christ is King,
Soon to be born among us,
but let us go now as the year turns
in the hopes of the people
And may the peace of Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with us throughout the coming days.