There is something of a mismatch between the language used for this feast and the cultural understanding of most of the people celebrating it, but that does not mean that the feast itself is of less importance. Indeed, it is often the feasts that we struggle to understand which yield the richest meanings. In previous years I have written about the origins of the feast, the theology of the idea of restoration of all things in Christ, medieval poetry on the kingship of Christ, and so on and so forth. This morning a phrase from the Rule of St Benedict came to mind which, for me, sheds more light on the celebration than any other.
Benedict talks of our taking up the ‘strong and glorious weapons of obedience’ in order to fight for ‘the true king, Christ our Lord.’ The true king. I wonder how many of us can say this morning that Christ is the true king of our heart; the one we will follow wherever he leads; for whom we will dare anything, even the loss of our own life? How many of us can say that we will lay aside our own ideas and preferences in order to join with others in serving this king?
If the language of this feast is an obstacle to you, why not spend a few minutes praying and reflecting on what you understand by the Church and your own membership of it? And if you are not a member of the Church, but a sympathetic bystander, perhaps you could think for a few moments of what it might mean to be such.