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Hallo again to all.

This Sunday is one of the richest of the liturgical year, if one counts its richness as a multiplicity of associated customs and names. In England and places where Albion's Seed has scattered abroad, it is Stir-up Sunday, so called because of the first words of the collect appointed,* but also on account of the practise of stirring up Christmas puddings on this day. In much of the Anglican world, it is still the Sunday Next before Advent, also called the Last Sunday of Ordinary Time, or even the Twenty-fifth or Twenty-sixth Sunday of Trinity or the Last Sunday of Pentecost. Whatever we call it, it is the last Sunday of the Church's year, a time for looking forward and backward with gratitude and hope.

In our church this morning, it was the Feast of Christ the King. This is—in the long view of ecclesiastical history—a shiny penny of a liturgical feast. It dates only to 1925 and an encyclical of Pope Pius XI on the reign of Christ. Today, it is celebrated by a great number of non-Roman and protestant Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Moravians, Presbyterians and assorted other children of the Reformation. It is a feast for our time, in which we can settle into focussed reflection on what we mean when we are bold to say 'thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven'.

The lifetime of every reader of Anglicans Online has been a period in which every sort of ideology has been substituted for the kingdom of God, by Christians no less than by others. We have seen capitalism, communism, racism, sexism, absolutism, bullionism (our favourite), spiritualism, nationalism and even mechanism fail to meet completely the needs of the human soul. Our Christian faith is that the reign of Jesus Christ in the kingdom of God does meet every need of our souls and our societies; the reign of Christ is in our hearts and in our actions, not in our forebears' misunderstanding of a King Jesus who would overthrow the Romans. This instead is the kingdom of God described by our Lord:

Then the king will say [...], 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'

This parable teaches us that Christ the King reigns when he reigns within us.

Christ reigns in weakness from the Cross itself, in weakness transformed into power and beauty through forgiveness and self-offering.

Christ reigns in joy from the time of his first miracle, in joy made ever new through food and wine and song.

Christ reigns in poverty begun in his childhood in Nazareth, in poverty without earthly power but with dignity and honor and kin.

Christ reigns in service from the time of his last supper, in service like the washing of feet and the clothing of the naked and the feeding of the poor.

Christ reigns in teaching from the beginning of his ministry, in teaching that nourishes every mind and heart open to it.

Christ reigns in learning from his childhood, in learning through which he grew and changed, and we do, too.

Christ reigns in sorrow, in sorrow so deep that no pain of ours is beyond his sympathy and empathy.

Christ reigns in quiet and calm, in 'the silence of eternity, interpreted by love'.

Christ reigns in love itself, in love made perfect in every firm and gentle act of a father for his daughter, of a priest for a penitent, of a friend for a friend, of a labourer for her family, of a professor for his students, of a cook for them who will eat, of a doctor for such as need care, of a poet who feeds our hearts, of a builder who keeps rain and snow from our mortal frames, of an altar guild member who has washed and ironed linens for 50 years, of a human feeding an animal, of a farmer who tends the plants that give us nutrition, of a cleaner who keeps us safe from infection of mind or body. Christ reigns in love as care takes place and increases among all of God's creatures, and as wickedness and selfishness and confusion are banished from our motives.

Christ is king when he reigns in our hearts.

See you next week. Advent is upon us!

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24 November 2013

* Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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