simple white fading png image

Christ The King

Weekly Bible Study Notes and Worship Resources

Last Sunday before Advent, Stir Up Sunday - Christ the King

Year C, Colour = Red

Related Material: Church Sermon Archive and Church Archive of Lectionary Material

Introduction

Today is the last Sunday of the church year, next week the year begins with the first Sunday in Advent, four Sundays before Christmas. Our collect today reminds us that it is Stir Up Sunday? a Sunday synonymous with Christmas puddings. The great cry 'stir up' was a reminder to congregations to get the Christmas pudding made in plenty of time to mature before Christmas. An important addition to the mixture is a coin, whoever gets it on their plate on Christmas Day should get worldly riches heaped upon them.

However, the Stir Up prayer is actually asking God for something much more important. We are praying that God will stir up our wills, so that we might get on with doing the good works that he has planned for us to do. Then, as a consequence, we pray that we might receive our abundant reward.

In an age when so much is about how we feel, it is interesting to get another perspective. In the end, it is our will, rather than our feelings, that is the most important governor of our actions. Real love is not about feeling it is about choosing, by our wills, to do good to others even though we may not feel good towards them. Our feelings should not dominate our wills. And so we pray that God will "stir up" our wills, so that they will be in charge of us, doing what we know is right. In this prayer we recognise that we need God's help in order for our wills to function properly.

"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."

Opening Verse of Scripture

Psalm 139

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Collect Prayer for the Day Before we read we pray

Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people, that they, bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by you be richly rewarded: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

God the Father, help us to hear the call of Christ the King and to follow in his service, whose kingdom has no end; for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, one glory. All Amen.

Eternal Father, whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven that he might rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


First Bible Reading  

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!" declares the LORD .Therefore this is what the LORD , the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: "Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done," declares the LORD  "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the LORD . "The days are coming," declares the LORD , "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

Second Reading 

Colossians 1: 10-20

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 1n whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross

 

Christ the KingGospel Reading 

Luke 23: 33-43

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise

 

Post Communion Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ you ascended to the throne of heaven to rule over all things as Lord and King: keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, that the whole created order may come to worship at your feet.

Commentary

Today is the last Sunday in the church calendar, next week we begin Advent. The special theme for today in the church year is a celebration of Jesus as King brought to us by Pius XI in 1925, only in 1970 was it moved from October to the last Sunday before Advent. It is a good theme for today because our Bible reading from Luke has the words fixed over Jesus on the cross THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Of course today is also named Stir Up Sunday and we have that beautiful collect prayer with the words ‘Stir up O Lord the will of thy faithful people.’ 
Today is a day when we are meant to encourage each other, when we remind ourselves that Christ is our King. It is a day when we draw close to Advent, that season in which we prepare ourselves for the coming of King Jesus at Christmas.

What does the Kingship of Jesus mean? Jesus said 'My Kingdom is not of this world, ' it is totally and radically different from any other kingship, it is not one of coercion, it is not imposed. The kingdom of Jesus is about love, justice and mercy. This kingdom will come in all of its fullness at a day in the future and it will never end, it has already arrived in the hearts of those who show allegiance to Jesus the King. Those who serve him pray 'Thy Kingdom come...' and they know that in Jesus they have found the one who is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all that is. He has been from the beginning of time itself and he will be with them forever.

Of course the last thing we think of kingship is crucifixion and suffering. So the words inscribed over Jesus are mocking and part of a tragic irony, to call a man on a cross a king is a cruel joke. No wonder Pilate must have laughed when Jesus was referred to as a king, for Pilate, Jesus could not be a king, because he did not fit the mould of a king. Kings are powerful figures, they demand respect and get it. When Pilate put ‘King of the Jews’ over Jesus, it was not in recognition of the kingship of Jesus, it was rather a mockery, Kings did not belong on crosses. 

Yet as Christians we see in this episode not a tragedy but a triumph. Jesus on the cross redefines what it means to be a king. Power is seen in the very powerlessness which allowed Christ the King to be killed. Jesus on the cross challenges our ideas about God and in a sense he redefines the human idea of what God is. The Old Testament idea of a powerful God who helped people win battles and who ordered the genocide of the conquered people is gone. In its place we have a God in Jesus who to some might be regarded as a cissy. Jesus spends his time caring for the weak and frail, cries at funerals and ends up being tortured and stuck up on the cross. This is not the ideal of great leadership which has inspired other human kings. The crucifixion confronts our normal expectations with a new way. Make no mistake, Jesus was a radical, he was a revolutionary of that there can be no doubt, but he was not the kind of revolutionary that Pilate was used to dealing with, in characters like Barabbas.

So what was the kingship of Jesus like? Jesus was not harmless and neither was he only concerned with the inner or spiritual world, he was truly subversive. In this Gospel of Luke, Jesus begins by addressing Israel's hopes of liberation. The songs of the birth narratives are full of it. Jesus marches into the synagogue to link his mission to Isaiah 61 in 4:16-20. He announces good news to the poor, to the hungry and to those who weep. He asserts and expresses the value of those considered valueless. He gathers people and announces change. Jesus is not announcing a message of personal enlightenment, to make us personally enriched; neither is he promising a utopia at another time and in another place. Rather he is announcing change and embodying it already in himself and in his community. This is dangerous for those with a vested interest in the status quo, no wonder that so many people were threatened by him and wanted him dead.

To affirm that Jesus is king is to affirm a different kind of kingship. But it is not a weak kingship or one which abdicates into an inner or spiritual world. Jesus was enormously powerful and assertive. He did not come to create a set of doormats, but to spread a revolution of love and grace, which entailed identifying and embodying a new kind of power and priority. The feast of Christ the King is a challenge to us all because the kingdom which he brings places some considerable challenges to us all. The saviour of all humankind is a man hanging on a cross, yet still the king, opening the gates of his kingdom to the bewildered, misled, rabble around him. I ponder on whether these words of Jesus from the cross are the most powerful words in all scripture, surely the cross is the central feature of our faith, the words spoken there hold extraordinary power. How can a king call forgiveness upon those who drive nails into his hand and hang him to die ? Make no mistake about what is taking place here, the one by whom all things were created things in heaven and on earth, who has supremacy over all things, is making peace through his death even on those who kill him. While human kings gain power in order reign over us, Jesus in his kingship demonstrates his authority by showing his forgiveness and love for his people, so much so that he gave his life for us. 

Do we take the kingship of Jesus seriously? Do we think of Jesus as our King? Or do we think that his kingship is something for the future and so no of much concern to us now? Today we ask this question of ourselves, to whom or what do we give our allegiance? Who holds dominion over us?  What are we living for? What energizes and gives meaning to our lives each day? We pray in the Lord’s Prayer ‘thy kingdom come.’ This prayer is not supposed to be a prayer asking God to bring the world to an end. Rather it is asking that God’s kingdom would be established in our lives. The kingship of Christ is something which Jesus expects us to be able to share now. This will happen if we let our lives be the place where God’s reign extends. Today, above all days perhaps, is the day when we are encouraged to own Christ in our hearts. Today we stir one another up and we remind ourselves that Jesus should be king of every part of our lives, our manners, our behaviour towards other people, are decisions about important life choices.  Charles Royden

 

Meditation

In the summer I went to Amalfi Cathedral, the resting place for the relics of St Andrew the Apostle, it is his day on November 30. It was an uplifting experience not least because I thanked God to still be alive after travelling the coastal road with italian drivers. Saint Andrew is believed to have been crucified on a saltire (X-shaped) cross in Patras, Greece. Around 357, Roman emperor Constantine had his remains transferred to the Church of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople. During the Fourth Crusade, Cardinal Pietro Capuano (Peter of Capua) took the saint’s remains to Amalfi. The relics arrived on 8 May 1208 and were placed in the crypt of the Cathedral of St Andrew. It is vital to remember the saints and to honour their sacrifice for us. The saints encourage us to be faithful, they help ’Stir us up’ and as we remember their sacrifice we too are encouraged to live lives of holiness. Not everybody appreciates relics but for some they are helpful because it is important to treat with respect and reverence something which physically connects us with those we love who have died. The physical reminder helps us to focus upon the reality of the saint and as we honour them we honour God who has made the person holy. Charles Royden

Hymns


1. Rejoice the Lord is King (Tune Gopsal)
2. Make way
3. Thou didst leave thy throne (Tune Margaret)
4. O Lord my God

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

representation of prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.
If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

 

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Gracious God,
look upon a sinner
who is yet created in your image.
Look upon a disciple
into whose heart you gaze.
Look upon a child
who longs to love you with a heart
yet more perfect,
and looking, forgive,
and gazing, pardon and bless;
for your truth and your mercy's sake.
Amen
Francois Fenelon, 1651-1715

Loving Heavenly Father I thank you for this new day, for its promise, its challenge and its opportunity. I have little to give you this day, but within my trembling hand I give you this will of mine and things that seem small, for you alone, O Lord, understand that when I yield Thee this I yield Thee all. So may my life this day, in all I think, speak or do, shew forth the mind of Christ. Amen.

God our Friend and protector, as we go through life help us to offer a hand of love and friendship to all in need. As our lives develop, like the seasons , spring when we blossom in our own ways, summer when we are full of the joys of young life, autumn when we hope to pass on the wisdom we have learnt, winter when we need the comfort of your presence at the closing of our days. Mmay we remember to thank you in our prayers for all your many blessings and help throughout our lives.

Heavenly Father we thank you for the gift of life and for loving each one of us, just as we are.
Now that we are elderly and less mobile, we have more time to sit and think. We give thanks for the gift of memory, whether of happy or sad occasions,?memories precious to us all. And, even if we cannot remember what happened yesterday, we can ponder over our youthful days and be thankful. Amen.

Creator God, we thank you that through the centuries you have given to men and women the gift of creativity. We think of all musicians and the music that inspires and brings us close to you.
We thank you for artists, as we gaze on their work we marvel at the details and the beauty of the colours. We think of the poet and his words, which can help and heal, and of the craftsmen, who have given such beautiful carving and buildings. Thank you too for those who use their creative gifts in leadership, creating order out of chaos and in building up broken relationships. O God you are the master craftsman and we would pray that we may use our own creative gifts for your honour and glory. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Additional Resources

Meditation

Born in 1874 Winston Churchill led Britain as Prime Minister through the Second World War. Winston Churchill spoke the following words about relating with people:

You haven't learned life's lesson very well if you haven't noticed that you can decide the reaction you want of people in advance. It's unbelievably simple. If you want them to smile, smile first. If you want them to take an interest in you, take an interest in them first. If you want to make them nervous, become nervous yourself. If you want them to shout and raise their voices, raise yours and shout. If you want them to strike you, strike first. It's as simple as that. People will treat you like you treat them. It's no secret. Look about you. You can prove it with the next person you meet.

Prayer : Inspire me, Lord, to be of good influence on people I will meet today. Amen.

Meditation

God does not rejoice at the death of sinners. On seeing the destruction of the Egyptians the angels wanted to break forth in song. But God silenced them saying: 'The work of my hands is drowning in the sea, and you desire to sing songs!'    Talmud


Though we descend from those redeemed from brutal Egypt, and we have ourselves rejoiced to see oppressors overcome, yet our triumph is diminiched by the slaughter of the foe, as the wine within the cup is lessened when we pout ten drops for the plagues upon Egypt. Passover Haggadah.


Hymns

  1. I know not why God' wondrous grace 279 (Tune I know whom) 

  2. O Lord my God 506 (Tune How great thou art)

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

Draw near to your flock, O Shepherd of Israel, that we may rejoice at the sound of your voice; walk through the darkest shadows at your bidding and climb the rugged steeps under your protection. May we come at the last to the sight of your unclouded beauty where, in the glory of eternal light, you are worshipped for evermore.

Bede Jarrett, 1881-1934

God of new beginnings, your love to us knows neither measure nor end. Reveal yourself to us in the ordinary things of life, so that each day's tasks may be done for love of you and each day's living may bring us nearer you; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Saviour. Michael Townsend, Chair, Leeds District

Eternal God, in whose perfect realm no sword is drawn but the sword of justice, and no strength known but the strength of love: guide and inspire all who seek your kingdom, that peoples and nations may find their security in the love which casts out fear; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Gracious God we pray for ourselves, that we might remember who is in control in creation, who it is who holds together all things. So may we give complete control to you of our lives. Help us to entrust to you our fears and worries and to rest ourselves in Christ Jesus. Help us to grow in faith, to rejoice always in what you have done, to submit our will and our plans to your will and your plan for our lives. Amen

Hymns

Rejoice the Lord is king

Rejoice, the Lord is King.
Your Lord and King adore;
mortals, give thanks and sing,
and triumph evermore:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

Jesus the Saviour, reigns,
the God of truth and love;
when he had purged our stains,
he took his seat above:
Chorus.

His kingdom cannot fail;
he rules o'er earth and heaven;
the keys of death and hell
are to our Jesus given:
Chorus.

Rejoice in glorious hope;
Jesus the Judge shall come,
and take his servants up 
to their eternal home:
We soon shall hear the archangel's voice
the trump of God shall sound: Rejoice!

 

Thou didst leave thy throne

1 Thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown,
when thou camest to earth for me;
but in Bethlehem's home was there found no room
for thy holy nativity:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus;
there is room in my heart for thee.

2 Heaven's arches rang when the angels sang,
proclaiming thy royal degree;
but in lowly birth didst thou come to earth,
and in great humility:
Refrain

3 The foxes found rest, and the bird had its nest
in the shade of the cedar tree;
but thy couch was the sod, O thou Son of God,
in the desert of Galilee:
Refrain

4 Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word
that should set thy people free;
but with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn
they bore thee to Calvary:
Refrain

5 When heaven's arches shall ring, and the angels sing,
at thy coming to victory,
let thy voice call me home, saying, 'Yet there is room,
there is room at my side for thee:'
Refrain

1 The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want.
He makes me lie in pastures green.
He leads me by the still, still waters,
His goodness restores my soul.
And I will trust in You alone.
And I will trust in You alone,
For Your endless mercy follows me,
Your goodness will lead me home.

(Descant)
I will trust, I will trust in You.
I will trust, I will trust in You.
Endless mercy follows me,
Goodness will lead me home.

2 He guides my ways in righteousness,
And He anoints my head with oil,
And my cup, it overflows with joy,
I feast on His pure delights.
Refrain

3 And though I walk the darkest path,
I will not fear the evil one,
For You are with me, and Your rod and staff
Are the comfort I need to know. 
Refrain

1 Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne;
hark, how the heav'nly anthem drowns
all music but its own:
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

2 Crown him the Lord of life,
who triumphed o'er the grave,
who rose victorious in the strife
for those he came to save.
His glories now we sing, 
who died and rose on high,
who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

3 Crown him the Lord of love;
behold his hands and side,
rich wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified:
no angel in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends each burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

4 Crown him the Lord of peace,
whose pow'r a sceptre sways
from pole to pole, that wars may cease,
and all be prayer and praise:
his reign shall know no end,
and round his piercèd feet
fair flow'rs of paradise extend
their fragrance ever sweet.

5 Crown him the Lord of years,
the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
for thou hast died for me;
thy praise shall never, never fail
throughout eternity.