Of all the festivals of the church, has not this one come the latest and borne the most diametric images—among them the royalty of a king/the humiliation of a cross, the brutal mockery/the truth of the “King of the Jews” sign, the reverence due an earthly king/the torture of this divine king, the power of an earthly king/the submission of this divine king, an earthly king ruling people/the divine king giving his life for them? Do these contradictory images not personify the kingdom of God? Even if our culture did understand the concept of kingship, would not this one turn everything on its head? – Robin K. Brown
As we contemporary Christians clamor for more political control, celebrate our increased economic successes, and master the skills of big business, one wonders whether we are still able to see what the condemned criminal on Golgotha could see: the kingship of Jesus, the crucified one. Has our vision been blurred by our intoxication with worldly forms of power? Which kingdom finally claims our allegiance?. . . .
Luke's beatitudes promise the kingdom to the poor, the hungry, those who weep, those who are hated, reviled and defamed. In what ways do we resemble these blessed of God? How do our power struggles in both church and culture reflect the cruciform values of the kingdom of Christ?
The church urgently needs to recover a vision of the kingdom of God that can be only clearly seen from the angle of the cross. From this place alone will we be able to hear Jesus say to us, as he did to that dying criminal, “you will be with me in Paradise.” – Michael A. Van Horn
When the president of the United States enters the House chamber to deliver [the] State of the Union address, all present, regardless of their party, stand and applaud. Though many will disagree with some or all of the president's statements, this initial applause is a recognition of the office of president that goes beyond the current incumbent in the office.
In modern times, the church has been blessed to have popes who were holy and moral men. Yet in ages past, even when the . . . bishop of Rome was a far less worthy man, Catholics would still address him as “Your Holiness.” Again this is a recognition of the office of the papacy, not a statement that the individual pope was in fact holy. . . . – Joseph McHugh
Jeremiah . . . [turns] our attention to the awaited messianic king. The gospel reading shows us the crucified Jesus ushering in the climax of salvation history, the reconciliation of all men and women in him.
This hymn of praise acknowledges all that Christ the King has done to establish the kingdom of God, of which, by the shedding of his blood, we are privileged to be part. Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation. All things find their fulfillment in him. By our baptism we have been incorporated into Christ the King; we have become a holy nation and a royal people. – Joseph McHugh
Robin K. Brown, a Lutheran pastor, is the Associate Director, ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal at the ELCA headquarters in Chicago.
Joseph McHugh is a freelance writer from New Jersey, and a former weekly newspaper columnist writing on lectionary readings whose writing includes a revision of Rev. Melvin L Farrell’s Getting to Know the Bible (ACTA Publications, 2003).
Michael A. Van Horn, an Evangelical Covenant pastor, served Trinity Church of Livonia, Michigan, for ten years and is now a missionary with the Rock of Ages Ministries, Cleveland, Tennessee.
Homily Service 40, no. 12 (2007): 58-68.