The purpose of celebration at the end of the year is to prepare for the coming of Christ and celebrate Christ's rule of our hearts. The last Sunday in the church's calendar has been known as "Christ the King" but we are now encouraged to deny the "king" and think of the "reign". Mayhap something to do with the concept of male authoritative figures. Hang on let us think this one a little deeper, the apocalyptic readings (Dan 7.9-10) and the acknowledgement of Christ at the end of the age in John's apocalypse (Revelation 1.8) point to male figures. Yes, perhaps it comes from a male dominated society, but hey Prince Harry is male. For us we celebrate Christ who was male as the authority over our lives. What is our purpose today if not a celebration of authority and our love of God's presence in the form of that authority? Even Christ in front of Pilate recognises the authority figure that the King reveals (Jn 18.33-37) even if it is a word in Pilates thoughts. This is the crux of Christ's thought here - the truth that is revealed in our hearts. We need to follow a tangible we cannot celebrate the intangible, at least very few of us can. What do I mean? Well a reign is a bit of a difficult concept to celebrate, unless the monarch is tangibly present, and a reign which is future based even more so.
The King we celebrate is on the margins in love
There is like all things a danger present as we open ourselves up to the truth of worship and the presence of God's Spirit as we celebrate the tangible presence of Christ our king, our Lord and our master. The danger is political as a celebration of our King is a political event and if we do not recognise the political we will allow ourselves to defer into what is pc rather than what is true. In celebrating the King we are sending a message to the powers of modern authority that we will be counter their rule of selfish reward and promote the rule of justice and relational love between all peoples. Unlike the leaders of nations those that follow and worship Christ do not rule by or celebrate kingly power as that is not what we celebrate but by granting respect to others and building the works of love to bring harmony and community into the world around us rather than division and anger. This is power but the power of love which we celebrate as personified by Christ our King. IF we see beyond the personalised power of the King we see into the hearts and minds of those who form relationship in love.
A further danger for those who follow Christ is that in misleading ourselves by celebrating Christ's reign (that is not yet) we are leaving ourselves open to a false high. Just like the wild celebrations of Saturnalia and the overpowering worship present in some Charismatic churches the experience becomes the need not the worship of God. In worshipping God we should be becoming more Christlike so that we can worship our King. This worship is not the high of the Saturnalia or the overload of the Charismatic but the joy that comes with knowing Christ is present. Only when we understand our own standing with God do we come to terms with the joy of worship in God's present that should be the celebration at the end of each year. We give thanks to God for God's presence in our lives. We give thanks to God for guiding and directing our lives so that we can bring joy, justice, peace and love into the hearts of our community. Only when we taste the joy of celebrating our King and Lord do we understand the gravitas of God's presence in our lives. It is this celebration of God's presence that should fill us with joy at this time of year. For in celebration we look forward to the incarnation.