Since 1970 the Sunday falling between November 20 and 26 has been known as Christ the King Sunday. On this conclusion of the liturgical year, we remember Christ’s ultimate authority over all earthly powers, and the contrast between his rule of love and the world’s rule of force. In seven week season of Advent that we are celebrating this year at Hope, each of the Sundays is themed by one of the verses of the famous and beloved hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. In keeping with the themes celebrated by the traditional liturgical calendar, November 22 is Rex Gentium ("King of Nations") Sunday, after the verse of the hymn:
O come, O King of nations, come,
O Cornerstone that binds in one:
refresh the hearts that long for you;
restore the broken, make us new.
Today I present a poem and a hymn that invite us to reflect on the meaning of Christ’s reign in our world and in our hearts.
The Noise of Politics
We watch as the jets fly in
with the power people and
the money people,
the suits, the budgets, the billions.
We wonder about monetary policy
because we are among the haves,
and about generosity
because we care about the have-nots.
By slower modes we notice
Lazarus and the poor arriving from Africa,
and the beggars from Central Europe, and
the throng of environmentalists
with their vision of butterflies and oil
of flowers and tanks
of growing things and killing fields.
We wonder about peace and war,
about ecology and development,
about hope and entitlement.
We listen beyond jeering protesters and
soaring jets and
faintly we hear the mumbling of the crucified one,
feeding the hungry
and giving drink to the thirsty,
about clothing the naked,
and noticing the prisoners,
more about the least and about holiness among them.
We are moved by the mumbles of the gospel,
even while we are tenured in our privilege.
We are half ready to join the choir of hope,
half afraid things might change,
and in a third half of our faith turning to you,
and your outpouring love
that works justice and
that binds us each and all to one another.
So we pray amidst jeering protesters
and soaring jets.
Come by here and make new,
even at some risk to our entitlements.
For over thirty years, Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933) has combined the best of critical scholarship with love for the local church in service to the kingdom of God. Now a professor emeritus of Old Testament studies at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, Brueggemann has authored over seventy books.
Holy God, Holy and Glorious
Susan R. Briehl
Holy God, holy and glorious,
glory most sublime,
you come as one among us
into human time,
and we behold your glory.
Holy God, holy and powerful,
power without peer,
you bend to us in weakness;
emptied you draw near,
and we behold your power.
Holy God, holy and beautiful,
you are despised, rejected;
scorned, you hold us fast,
and we behold your beauty.
Holy God, holy and only wise,
wisdom of great price,
you choose the way of folly:
God the crucified,
and we behold your wisdom.
Holy God, holy and living one,
life that never ends,
you show your love by dying,
dying for your friends,
and we behold you living.
The Rev. Susan R. Briehl is a pastor of the ELCA. She served as Executive Director of Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat centre. Previous to that she was a campus pastor at Pacific Lutheran University and pastor of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Bellingham, WA. She has also been a program associate at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IL. She has written numerous books, hymns, and worship songs.