I stayed home from church today. It’s Christ the King Sunday, a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church and anunofficial day of celebration in the Episcopal Church. This is the day to remember and celebrate Jesus’ lordship over all—all of creation, all of us, all of our efforts and institutions and systems. We Episcopalians should get on board with the Catholics here and make this a feast day.
My heart has been heavy. Death, sickness, poverty, cruelty, and selfishness persist. Syria. Ukraine. Libya. Israel. The US Congress.
Sad news from Beni continues to roll in. Friends, family, and colleagues in Beni soldier on. Our tiny band of international staff waits, prays, and works in Uganda. CI leadership wrestles with the normal challenges of organizational life and leadership in a not-so-normal environment. What does Stephen Covey have to say about insecurity and unrest inSeven Habits?
Today I needed to sit with prayer, scripture, and God.
The collect for the day (Episcopal BCP, p. 236):
Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and lord of lords; Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The readings for today reference a kingly God and a God of power:
- Worship the Lord…come into his presence...
- Enter his gates with thanksgiving
- ….immeasurable greatness of his power…
- God put this power to work in Christ…and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…
Ezekiel references God as a shepherd (a rather lowly occupation in the day) of an unruly and doltish flock (adjectives mine, not Ezekiel's).
Then there is the Matthew 25 passage. Jesus, God made flesh, Emmanuel, was and is hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, imprisoned. He was and is a stranger—someone from somewhere else. Jesus the King is broken and in need. King Jesus, broken and in need, asks us for help. King Jesus asks us for some food, a cup of water, clothing and shelter, care and presence, and a warm welcome.
This is where my heart opened up. Something inside said, "Love." I don't know how or why or where that word came from. The word loveisn't in today's readings, per se. But it is implied in the actions. God loves us. God doesn't reign imperially and imperiously. God reigns with love and gentleness. God's desire is for our complete restoration—a healthy planet, healthy families, good relationships, people at peace.
I do not love the people wreaking havoc in Beni and other places in the world. But God does. And while I am not physically able to give the cup of water, I can pray for that cup of water. I can pray that God's love would pour down on each one, just as today's rainstorm drenched us here in Kampala.
Dear God, King of All, yes, please restore all things and bring all people together—all of us separated and divided and hating and hurting each other. Bring us each and all to freedom and peace. May we do our part. May we love each other across those divides and separations. Help me to pray your love on those whom I do not want to love.