“Cristo Rey (A Pivotal Sunday)”
(Jeremiah 23:1-6, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43)
We’ve all likely experienced pivotal moments-those times when our lives have changed direction due to graduating from school, getting married, the birth of a child, the loss of a loved one; all of these experiences serve as examples. I describe today (Christ the King Sunday, which is known as Cristo Rey in Spanish) as a pivotal Sunday because today we turn our attention toward the Advent season which begins next Sunday; today we pivot and turn toward Advent.
Christ the King Sunday is a relative newcomer to our liturgical calendar; it came about in 1925 in response to Christians in Mexico suffering persecution from anti-religious authorities, and a general apathy toward the Christian faith in Europe. The Catholic church declared this date to be Christ the King Sunday to remind the world that the church community, despite the persecution and apathy being witnessed, placed Christ as King of their churches and homes.
In our scriptures we often find people being faced with a choice as to what they will make king in their lives; will it be God (Old Testament) or Christ, or will it be something else such as self-interests or idol worship (money, position, etc.) From our Jeremiah passage today, the prophet is railing against the Kings and other leaders who no longer have God as their focus. They have wandered to idol worship and are neglecting their responsibilities which were to enable all to have access to justice. The Kings were to live lives of righteousness as examples for the people, but with God no longer as King of their lives, this was not happening.
From our Colossians reading, Paul wrote these words as encouragement to a church being persecuted for their beliefs. At the time, authorities demanded that people worship Nero as King; Paul’s words to the church served as instruction and encouragement to worship only Christ as King, despite the ongoing persecution.
The passage from Luke seems oddly placed today (Christ the King Sunday) since Jesus’ crucifixion and mocking from the crowd is featured in today’s reading. However, look at verses 35-38; each verse refers to Jesus as King in some way. When reading this passage with kingship in mind, we must remember that God’s purposes were being played-out in this scene from Luke. With Jesus’ death and resurrection we find God’s Kingdom being established in the new covenant. (over)
As we pivot our attention toward the Advent season ahead, we must ask ourselves who will be King in our lives. This Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is Black Friday, when consumerism will once again take center stage for many. Will consumerism replace Christ as King this Advent season? As I examine my life, what will I claim as King during Advent?
I will close with this quote on this pivotal Sunday: So who really is king where you are? Is it Jesus? Or is it the shopping season and the consumerist version of Christmas? The power of consumerism, secularized Christmastide, and apathy toward Christ today reminds us of the forces and emerging attitudes in Mexico and Europe which inspired the church to declare a Christ for King Sunday in 1925.
And so, as we recognize and celebrate Christ the King Sunday today, a day I am describing as a pivotal Sunday as we change direction and now walk toward the Advent season, let us be intentional in placing Christ as King of our church, homes, hearts and minds.