In some church denominations, this coming Sunday, November 21, is Christ the King Sunday. This day is significant in the lifecycle of the church community for several reasons, but there is an historic foundation to its inception. I’d like to tell you about it.
In 1925, the world was in significant turmoil. While World War I had ended a few years prior, the aftershock of an entire planet at war — nation against nation — was reverberating throughout the countries. The economic landscape of the world was forever changed; one after another of the countries in Asia and the Middle East began fighting against colonialism; with troops traveling across countries, disease was spread unlike any era had ever seen; a shift in balance of the genders began as women from all countries were left at home caring for families, businesses, and social systems; also, as a result of travel during the war, ethical and religious ideologies were challenged as people who might never have known one another were suddenly face-to-face with differing belief systems. It was in this aftershock that Pope Pius XI realized a critical element about mankind: he had forgotten who was the Eternal King; man had replaced the Eternal King with the rulers of the nations. Mankind, in his fear or violence or hubris, was turning away from the Supreme Justice. So, in order to foster a re-establishment of the perfect hierarchy and remind man — whose faith was waning in the chaos of those days — Pope Pius XI proclaimed this as Christ the King Sunday. Even though the nations may not agree politically, socially, economically, even morally, there would be a dedicated Sunday each year that we mark Who has already won the greatest war.
When our world may not be enduring a world war as in Pope Pius XI’s era, there are many corporations and nations jockeying for supremacy. When our youth are taught more by YouTube, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter, TikTok, and Reddit than by the presence of the family around the supper table. When we are estranged from our loved ones and precious friends because of a virus we have yet to control. When as a human race cannot find consensus regarding protection of self and neighbor versus ability to live into human rights. When racial and sexual and gender discrimination continues unchecked and unstopped. When nations war and citizens weep.
What does Christ the King Sunday remind us to do? Recognize Jesus as King. Be still and know that He is God. Our community, nation, world may not look like what we desire. It is up to us to change it. And, as we move to make change, we have a beloved Savior who knows our pain, our fear, our anger, our loneliness. And while we may not be able to enact change on the whole world, we begin with a ripple like a pebble in a pond. Kindness. Gentleness. Forgiveness. Thankfulness.
It begins with you. With me. Where will you start?