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Christ the King Sunday

Reign of Christ the King

Robin Stephenson-Bratcher and Dennis Bratcher

Introduction

Christ the King Sunday is celebrated on the last Sunday of Ordinary time (last Sunday after Pentecost), before the beginning of Advent that starts the new Church Year. As the last Sunday of the Christian Church Year, Christ the King Sunday is the climax and conclusion of the Church’s liturgical journey through the life of Christ and the Gospel message. Its purpose is to celebrate the coming reign of Christ as King of the Earth and his completion of the renewed creation that marks the fullness of the Kingdom of God. That hope is born from the entire life of Christ and his teachings that have been celebrated in the seasons of the Church Year during the past twelve months. In celebrating the Reign of Christ the King, this Sunday also provides an appropriate bridge to the new Church Year that begins the following Sunday on the first Sunday of Advent with an emphasis on hope and expectation, the longing for the coming of the Kingdom of God amid the darkness of a sinful world (see Advent).

As such a bridge between the completed year and the beginning of a new year, Christ the King services often use Scripture and song to provide both a retrospective and introductory overview of the journey through the life of Christ and the Gospel message that the Seasons of the Church Year provides. This offers not only an opportunity for a worshipful reflection on the significance of the life of Christ, it also presents opportunity to remind people of the meaning of the various seasons of the Church Year.

The Service

In the Year of Our Lord

Prelude

Welcome - Community Events

Call to Worship: Psalm Reading

Year A: Psalm 93   Year B: Psalm 95:1-7   Year C: Psalm 46

Prayer

Introduction

We have been on a journey the past twelve months as we have traveled through the Christian Church Year. We have followed in the steps of Jesus as he was birthed in a stable, as he walked the dusty hillsides of Galilee, opened blind eyes and made the lame to walk again, as he taught the multitudes and the disciples, as he was crucified, and rose again. We have celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, reflected on the mission of the Church, and what it means to be a disciple of the Christ. Today is the last Sunday of that journey for this year. Next Sunday we begin celebrating Advent as we once again begin that journey to remind ourselves who we are and whose we are.

We do so knowing that the Kingdom of God that Jesus brought is a present reality in our lives. And yet we also know that there is a future Kingdom over which God will reign in Christ, a Kingdom in which the world will once again fully reflect its creator. Today we celebrate Christ as past, present, and future King over all the earth, at the same time that we express our hope and our Faith in that coming Kingdom.

So today we will look back at this past year’s journey with Jesus. But we are also looking forward to our journey this coming year, as we express each week our Faith in the transforming power of God at work in our world, and in our Church, and in our lives to restore all of creation to his purposes.

Song: Now The Feast (Congregation sings Chorus – Soloist sings Verses)

Alternate: Majesty, Worship His Majesty

The Journey

Advent: The royal color of Blue begins the Church Year in Advent, a word that means "coming". We pace this season of four Sundays hearing again the silence of the prophets, experiencing the breathless waiting of the Israelites hoping for a Messiah. We sing the song "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" with longing, not because we seek a Messiah yet to come to the world, but because the Christ has come and we long for him to come to us again. The quiet pace of Advent is in direct contrast to the bustling commercialism of the secular holidays. And so we begin our new year in Advent, reminding ourselves that in the midst of the worldliness of our lives we need to renew our relationship to this King who has come.

Scripture: Isaiah 40:1-11

Alternate: Luke 1:46-55

Hymn: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Alternate: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Christmas: In the season of Christmas we change the sanctuary colors to White and Gold, a celebration of the purity of the infant who was born in a manger, and yet a King with all the splendor of God come to dwell with his people. Christmas Day is both the culmination of the waiting of the Advent season, and the beginning of twelve days of celebration as we rejoice in the gift of our Savior and the daily rebirth of grace in our own lives.

Scripture: Galatians 3:28-4:6

Alternate: John 1:1-14

Hymn: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Alternate: Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne

Epiphany: Epiphany means "to make known," and in the season of Epiphany we remember the ways and events through which God revealed himself through Jesus Christ.

The colors of Epiphany are usually the colors of Christmas, White and Gold, the colors of celebration, newness, and hope that mark the most sacred days of the church year. In traditions that only observe a single day for Epiphany, the colors are often changed after Epiphany to the colors of Ordinary Time, usually Green or thematic sanctuary colors, until Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent. The colors for Transfiguration Sunday are usually the colors of Holy Days, White and Gold.

As with most aspects of the Christian liturgical calendar, Epiphany has significance as a teaching tool in the church. The Wise Men or Magi who brought gifts to the infant Jesus were the first Gentiles to acknowledge Jesus as "King" and so were the first to "show" or "reveal" Jesus to a wider world as the incarnate Christ. This act of worship by the Magi, which corresponded to Simeon’s blessing that this child Jesus would be "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32), was one of the first indications that Jesus came for all people, of all nations, of all races, and that the work of God in the world would not be limited to only a few.

The day is now observed as a time of focusing on the mission of the church in reaching others by "showing" Jesus as the Savior of all people. It is also a time of focusing on Christian brotherhood and fellowship, especially in healing the divisions of prejudice and bigotry that we all too often create between God’s children.

Scripture: John 1:1-12, 29-34

Alternate: Isaiah 60:1-6

Hymn: The People That in Darkness Sat

Alternate: There's a Song in the Air

Alternate: Wise Men Seeking Jesus

Lent: With the ashes on our heads after the service of Ash Wednesday, the sanctuary colors for Lent turn to a somber Purple or Violet and to Black at the end of the Passion Week. Throughout the six weeks of Lent we pace the length of Jesus’ three years of ministry. Throughout the weeks we relearn the faces and names of people who, like you and me, were sometimes faithful and sometimes selfish; people who heard the good news and responded and others who laughed and scorned; men, women, and children who heard Jesus’ words and watched his life and came hungry and were fulfilled, or who walked away because they could not use him for their own ends.

It is a long season, a season that calls us to stop and take a look at our life in the light of Christlikeness, and humble ourselves before our God who says to us gently, "Come, let us talk this over. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing to obey, you shall eat the good things of the earth." (Isaiah 1:18-19 NJB)

The season of Lent culminates in "Passion Week," from a Latin word that means "to suffer." Starting with Palm Sunday and the joyful entry of Israel’s Messiah-King in to Jerusalem, it ends with that very same crowd yelling "Crucify him, crucify him." In between these two days, the week’s events are remembered with various services that pace the Passion Week: A Seder meal, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Tenebrae, and the Holy Saturday Vigil.

Scripture: Isaiah 53:1-11

Alternate: Mark 8:31-38

Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Alternate: Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone?

Offering

Offertory: Instrumental, Be Still My Soul - Tune: Finlandia

The Journey Continues

Easter: Morning dawns and Mary Magdalene weeps at the tomb until she is told the good news "He is not dead! He has risen!" And that call echoes down through the centuries as Christians around the world joyfully cry out "Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed!" year after year on the highest and holiest day of the Christian calendar.

Easter lilies adorn the sanctuary, the colors change to the brightness of White and Gold to portray the purity and kingliness of our Risen Savior. There is no joy compared to an Easter Sunday after the solemn pace of Lent. Three days before we buried our beloved Jesus; today He lives! We wept with Peter on the night he was crucified, and on Easter we are awed anew by the great news that He Lives!

And the fifty days of Easter ring jubilantly with the new life and new hope that the Risen Savior brings to us, to our world, and to all peoples who open their hearts to him. We listen in on the conversations of the disciples as they struggle to wrap their human hearts and minds around this new revelation. We watch as those who previously had persecuted the people of God now fall on their knees in awe and wonder. We experience anew for ourselves in this season the freedom and joy and the power, strength, and life that is our heritage as the people of God.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 20-22

Alternate: Acts 10:34-43

Hymn: Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Alternate: Soloist/Choir – He’s Alive

Pentecost: The Red of flames is the sanctuary color of Pentecost as we remember the great rushing wind and the dancing flames like fire, and the words of Jesus, baptizing his disciples with the Holy Fire of the Spirit. The disciples and followers of Jesus were one moment huddled in fear in a small upper room. Then the Holy Spirit came in power and they rushed out of the building and into the streets, telling everyone about the good news in ways that all could understand. Today? Well, one day we are ordinary people, the next we are his evangelists, and pastors, and healers, and mercy-bringers, and the Body of Christ, redeemed by his blood, one in ministry to the entire world. Are you willing to be filled with the Spirit?

Scripture: John 20:19-22; Acts 2:1-12

Alternate: Acts 2:1-21

Hymn: Breathe on Me, Breath of God

Alternate: O Spirit of the Living God

Ordinary Days: Ordinary time includes the counted Sundays between Pentecost and Advent. Since there are no Holy Days in this time it serves to remind us of the ordinary times of life. The book of Acts and the Epistles give us a clear picture of ordinary people, going about ordinary lives, but doing extraordinary things that built the Kingdom of God. The Church was growing by leaps and bounds, both the individuals within it and the worldwide Church. So we use the color of Green to depict this growing time, and pray for the same thing within our ordinary lives. We hear again the Good News, we are instructed in the ways of the world and the Kingdom, and we are shown the vision of the Church and our responsibility within it. We hear afresh the voices of the gospel writers, the prophets, and Paul, Peter, James, each exhorting us to respond anew to the call of God to be his people in a world that is hungry for the grace, love, and peace we bring into every minute of life, if we are walking in the Light, if we are "abiding in the vine."

Ordinary? Yes, but through our lives God brings the living water to a thirsty world in our offerings of service and mercy that we offer to others on a daily basis. And this is the extraordinary way that God builds his Kingdom - through ordinary people like you and me.

Scripture: John 15:1-9

Hymn: Take My Life and Let it Be

Christ the King/Eucharist: It is Christ the Savior-Shepherd-King who presides over this table. At the Eucharist table we can all gather, "neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free", but one in Christ. Here we can all come freely to experience and to participate in this means of grace that visibly exhibits to us each week the heart and mind of our Creator, our Savior, and our Sustainer.

On this "Christ the King" Sunday we are reminded that God is with us through all the seasons of life as the writer of Ecclesiastes so poignantly reminds us. As we gather around the table today may you feel the freedom, the joy, the strength of Jesus’ presence in your spirit. Remember his words? "Look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time." (Matthew 28:20 NJB)

The Eucharist

Hymn: Come to the Table

Minister: The Lord be with you.

People: And also with you.

Minister: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Minister: It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. You formed us in your image, and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away, and our love failed, your love remained steadfast. You delivered us from captivity, made covenant to be our sovereign God, and spoke to us through your prophets. And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

All: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Minister: Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ. Your Spirit anointed him to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to announce that the time had come when you would save your people. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and ate with sinners.

By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the spirit. When the Lord Jesus ascended, he promised to be with us always, in the power of your Word and Holy Spirit.

On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.

People: Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Minister: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. By your Spirit makes us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father now and forever.

All: Amen.

Invitation to the Table

Minister: All who would come to Christ are invited to come to His table.

Closing Eucharistic Prayer

Minister: Let us pray together.

All: Almighty Creator, you began a season of faith when you called us to be your beloved children. That season continues in the turning of the years that we spend serving our Lord Jesus Christ. Through this table may we be sanctified to continue to work in this world through a Spirit-filled life of growth and fulfillment until Christ comes again in his glory. Through every season of each year help us be your people, building your Kingdom. Amen.

Scattering To Minister

Song: In Thanksgiving Let Us Praise Him

Benediction

Minister: Go in peace, serve the Lord!

People: Thanks be to God!

-Dennis Bratcher, © 2014, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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