Reign of Christ
Jeremiah 23:1-6 – Psalm 46 – Colossians 1:11-20 – Luke 23:33-43
It is good to be here together today as we celebrate the the feast of Christ the King, or the Reign of Christ, the day when we specially celebrate our Cathedral bearing his name.
It is so good to bring together our anglophone and francophone congregations for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, as we started to do just before, in November 2019. Good to be able to celebrate our diversity and unity in Christ, and continue the work of better inclusion and welcome to all.
We are also delighted today to welcome Cécilia Rose as she is brought for baptism by her parents, Nathalie and Xander, and sets out on her on Christian journey. We are glad that Fr Yves-Eugéne, Cécilia’s grandfather, will officiate at the baptism.
And today, we are also glad to have among us members of the family of Dorothy Oidi, a long-standing and well-beloved member of our community who died at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, after a long illness. Although she was not a tall woman, she had a big impact on this community through her ongoing and quiet presence and her dedicated commitment as part of our flower and altar team, and particularly for the beautiful decorations she used to weave with palms for Palm Sunday. Before her death, she had asked her friend Alice for altar linen to be made in the Philippines for the Cathedral to be used during our services, and they were brought to us during the summer. We will be blessing them at the altar later in our service today.
Today, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, also known as the Reign of Christ. And we ponder in awe at the paradox of Jesus the King who came into the world, not expecting to be served but instead to serve. A paradox encapsulated through many images of Christ on the cross as a proud monarch instead of the martyred figure.
Someone for whom life began and ended in ensuring fullness of life for others, bringing them back to the essentials of life through the love of God, disregarding the cost to himself. Someone for whom service to others was at the core of his life, expressing God’s message of infinite compassion and love, a message he invited his followers to share with all.
Someone who, though he was the son of God, earned his crown by walking the path to the cross – an instrument of torture and death – and to die, giving his life in the service of humanity, of you and me.
In the course of his ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem, Jesus spent much time in the temple, in synagogues, worshipping God with others and debating ancient scriptures and bringing them to life in a new way. All this informed his core tasks of preaching, healing, forgiving, reconciling, all in the name of a God who loves us infinitely.
The story of Jesus’ ministry does not dwell too much on the details of how this was all made possible – though from time to time, we get a glimpse of the ways in which he was being welcomed into people’s homes. Jesus was able to focus on his core tasks with his little group of disciples because he received support, hospitality, food and lodging, the means of transportation, from many of those who were transformed by his teaching, whose understanding of God was changed, and who sought to learn more as well as ensure that Jesus’s message would be heard by many around them.
There would no church today had Jesus not been supported by many in that way, and had Christians over many generations since then not been filled with the desire to continue to communicate this amazing story, to share the good news to others, often at great sacrifice to themselves, sometimes even of their life.
In so doing, the kingdom of God has grown in visibility through the formation of so many Christian communities around the world, including our own here in Montreal.
And so Christ Church Cathedral seeks to continue to do this and, as the body of Christ gathered in the hear of this city, we rely on every member of this Cathedral community to help us in this task entrusted to us here, now, in this place.
Because of course we want to maintain our building and look after our community, but also because we are called to go beyond ourselves and contribute to God’s ongoing mission, opening up conversations, and providing hospitality as we open our doors to all almost every day of the year.
We are stewards of a building whose purpose is to serve the community, a springboard for the proclamation of the Gospel, seeking like Jesus to connect sacred with secular, prayer with politics, spirituality and practical needs, the human and the divine. And our Cathedral community exists not simply for the wellbeing of its existing members, but in order that we might invite more to join us on a common journey with God.
These tasks are shared with a very able team – administrator, vergers and many volunteers who help to maintain and beautify this space, that it may speak of God to all who visit, and help to maintain the bonds of our shared community.
And our team of clergy and lay leaders, musicians and singers, and other artists, help us to craft acts of worship and programming which inspire us and continue to nurture our faith and our connection with God, in the highs and the lows of life.
To continue in this mission, we rely on your help and support.
In the past few days, those of you who are on our lists will have received the annual letter from our Stewardship committee to ask you to prayerfully consider your role in these tasks, both in terms of your financial contribution to the life of this community and in your contribution in time and expertise.
In doing so, we are not expecting anyone to do the impossible, but instead asking all of you to pray and responding to the movement of the Holy Spirit – giving thanks for all that you receive from God through our community and how this enriches your life. Think about how your experience of the love of God in your life could transform the lives of others, and how your gift of time and money can contribute to this ongoing task.
It has been a long-established practice for Christians to tithe, to give a proportion of their disposable income towards this sacred task.
Our contribution to the liveliness of the Gospel and the life of the Church used to be called the tithe, which in early Biblical times stood at 10% of the harvest.
In recent times, and mindful that we all contribute to other charities, we are asked to consider a gift equivalent to 5% of our disposable income, bearing in mind of course that we all have different family circumstances and that no one should fall into debt to support the church. Happily, any gift also brings tax benefits. Your contribution can also be made in volunteering and helping us in the many tasks that contribute to our mission.
I would like to finish with a story gleaned from another preacher.
Two Christians, a lawyer and a businessman, had joined round the world tour. In Korea one day, they saw a field by the side of the road. In the field, a boy pulled a crude plough, while an old man held the plough handles and directed it through the rice paddy.
The lawyer was amused and took a picture of the scene. “That’s a curious sight,” he said to the missionary, who was the interpreter and guide. “Yes,” was the reply, “that is the family of Chi Noui. When the church building was built, they were eager to give something, but they had no money, so they sold the only ox they had and gave the money to the church. This spring, they are pulling the plough themselves.”
The lawyer and the businessman were silent for a few moments, then the businessman said, “That must have been a real sacrifice.”
“They did not call it that,” said the missionary. “They thought it was fortunate they had an ox to sell.”
Today, as we celebrate Christ the King, we know that we being part of God’s kingdom makes us infinitely rich – not always as the world sees it. And we give thanks for the many blessings that we have received over time. As we thank God for the life of our Cathedral community, let us consider our contribution for the coming year – gift of our life, but also gifts that will bring life to others. And as we respond in faith, let us commit to not give to God offerings that cost us nothing.