Monday, November 22, 2004

Christ the King (November 21, 2004)

Three random thoughts:

First, a wonderful story from Malcolm Muggeridge's autobiography:

In the dark days of Stalin’s rule, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge worked for the British newspaper, the Guardian, as a correspondent. One day while walking in the woods outside of Moscow he came across a small church and noted that someone had given the church a fresh coat of bright, blue paint. Muggeridge writes that he felt that he ”belonged to the little disused church [the painter] had embellished, and that the Kremlin with its scarlet flag and dark towers and golden spires was an alien kingdom. A kingdom of power such as the Devil had in his gift, and offered to Christ, to be declined by him in favour of the kingdom of love. I, too, must decline it, and live in the kingdom of love.” (Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time, Vol. 1, The Green Stick (1972), pp. 226-227.)

Second, an observation about one of the gospel readings for Christ the King:

One of the gospel readings assigned today is Luke 25.35.43. It contains the poignant story of the "good thief." In it the penitent thief says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” What do you suppose he was thinking? Was he holding out hope that Jesus would be rescued and set up some sort of earthly kingdom? Did he hope that when he was dead and gone that someone would say, “I remember old so and so”? Or did he use the word “remember” with the meaning it has in the Torah and the Prophets? The imperative “remember” (zakhor) appears 169 times in the Old Testament. When God remembers something, things change. Exodus tells us that God heard the “groaning” of the Israelites “God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Ex. 2.24) To be remembered by God is to be held in life.

Yale’s Miroslav Volf writes, “The remembrance of suffering is not turned in upon itself and self-enclosed; rather, it is a hopeful remembering, a remembering open to a transformed future. As Christ was raised, so also those who suffer will be raised with him. They are not locked in their past, unable to free themselves from it. Rather, they are on the path through death to resurrection along with Christ, and what happened to him will also happen to them. (link to Volf article)

Third random thought: is a terrific source for selecting hymns. It's especially rich in recently written hymns. Here are a few good ones for Christ the King:

"To mock your reign, O Dearest Lord" and "Lord, who left the highest heaven" both by Timothy Dudley-Smith, former Suffragan Bishop of Norwich (England) and author of "Tell out, my soul", as well as many other good hymns (

"Lord Christ, we praise your sacrifice" Alan Gaunt, a pastor of the United Reformed Church of Great Britain. He's a wonderful hymn writer. See his communion hymn "Come to me," says Jesus". (