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Preparing for Advent

The Feast of Christ the King - The Reign of Christ

22 November 2020

Christ the King Sunday affirms that good leadership - whether at the national, regional, or local level and indeed in the Church - is necessarily servant leadership. Our readings tell us about servant leadership. In Ezekiel 34: 11-17, the work of a shepherd is presented as a metaphor in contrast to selfish national leadership. In Matthew 25:31-46  - Jesus’ story of the last judgement - the King of the universe pronounces judgement on all people according to the quality of practical mercy exhibited in their lives.  

It is also interesting to reflect on the history, and today’s context, for a Sunday marking the Reign of Christ to close the Western Church’s liturgical year. The Solemnity of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and it came about in the context of the rising nationalism, fascism and secularism in 1920s Europe. The intention was to remind Christians that their ultimate allegiance lay with Jesus Christ and to encounter him in our everyday lives by finding him in people that we see needing our help. 

This Sunday seeks to promote ‘servant leadership’ and to challenge any leadership that does not reflect a servant character. The most urgent priority is to see the face of God in every human being and especially those who are most vulnerable in our midst. Today’s gospel tells us where we can find him. But do we see? Do we want to see? It does involve risks and emerging from beyond our comfort zones.

And amongst those calling us out of our comfort zones are those working with refugees and asylum seekers in detention and in our community; who have faced many months without work and depending on food banks and emergency assistance to pay rent and bills to avoid homelessness. “Our church and community organisations are overwhelmed and short of resources to keep going until February next year for the thousands without other forms of assistance.” (Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce)

“Then he will answer, “In truth I tell you, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me.” (Matthew 25:45)

Call to Worship 

King of the Universe, 

Shepherd of your people, with thanksgiving we come into your presence. 

Your steadfast love and faithfulness is from generation to generation. 

Jesus, ushering in God’s reign of justice and mercy, calling us to care for the least. 

Revive in us the vision of your world in which all are included and cherished. 

It is your kingdom and your rule that is drawing near. 

Reign in us Christ Jesus, now and forever. 

Amen. 

Prayers of Intercession 

When I was hungry you gave me food; when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink; when I was a stranger and alone you welcomed me, when I was naked, you clothed me, when I was ill, you came to my help, when in prison, you visited me. 

Good Shepherd, may we follow you, coming alongside others, as you come alongside us; comforting the grieving, offering friendship to the lonely, reaching out to those in our community and beyond, who are in need of your loving care and protection. 

May your church protect those who are threatened, welcome the lost, heal those who are sick, share with the needy and love as you have loved us, knowing that all are precious in your sight. 

Amen

An Ecumenical Christian Prayer (Pope Francis ‘Fratelli Tutti’ 3 October 2020)

O God, Trinity of love,

from the profound communion of your divine life,

pour out upon us a torrent of fraternal love.

Grant us the love reflected in the actions of Jesus,

in his family of Nazareth,

and in the early Christian community.

Grant that we Christians may live the Gospel,

discovering Christ in each human being,

recognizing him crucified

in the sufferings of the abandoned

and forgotten of our world,

and risen in each brother or sister

who makes a new start.

Come, Holy Spirit, show us your beauty,

reflected in all the peoples of the earth,

so that we may discover anew

that all are important and all are necessary,

different faces of the one humanity

that God so loves. Amen.

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