The I have some great news for you this morning. It’s being announced today that the Queen is coming to visit Wolverhampton. More than that, she’s coming here, to Ettingshall: In fact, she’s going to open our lift. She’ll be the first person to ride in it, and we’ll put up a little plaque saying that she did and we are going to have the best time getting ready for it because there’s going to be a reception and they’re going to re-tarmac the drive and landscape it, and we’ll have a do in the parish hall which we will need to repaint – did you know that the Queen thinks the whole world smells of emulsion? It’s true. Anyway, they’re going to close the roads and sweep up the leaves and hat sales are going to go through the roof (and that’s just me) and my Mum’s going to buy me a new cassock and I promise I’ll lose weight this time and we will make absolutely sure that we will be ready for this, because it’s massive. It’s so important, and it’s going to be all over the Express and Star, and the Local and National TV are going to be here. It’s happening in fifteen months time. I am just so excited.
It’s being announced this morning that the King of the entire Universe is coming to visit Wolverhampton. More than that, he’s coming to Ettingshall. And we are going to have the best time getting ready for this, because there’s going to be reception and they’re going to make straight the highways and clean all the pathways, and we’ll have a do right here – did you know that the King thinks the whole world smells of Incense? It’s true. Anyway, we’re going to close the roads and sweep up the leaves and hat sales are going to go through the roof, and we will make absolutely sure that we are ready for this, because it’s massive. It’s so important, it’s the most important thing ever, and it’s not going to go near the Express and Star, and the local and National TV will not be remotely interested. It’s happening in about fifteen minutes’ time. I am just so excited.
Or am I?
Jesus, our King, comes to visit us quite a lot. In fact, he’s always here, in his word, in his sacrament, in each other. He’s here, now. He is completely available to us. And yet I bet that when I said the Queen was coming to open the lift I bet your heart skipped a beat. When you realized where I was going with the Jesus bit, I would imagine that you were not as excited. The reason? We don’t get to see the Queen that often in this part of Wolverhampton. I’ve once been in the same room as her, when she opened the new session of General Synod last year. I have met her son, once, when he came to visit St Stephen’s House in Oxford. (Interesting fact – when the Prince of Wales visits you, you have to turn off your central heating and open the windows so that the temperature inside is the same as it is outside – it’s to stop him getting colds. And I’ve blown it, because that’s the one thing you are going to remember from this sermon instead of how important the Kingship of Jesus is.)
The other thing is that we aren’t used to Kings behaving the way Jesus behaves. We aren’t used to seeing kings being led away to be executed like common criminals. We aren’t used to seeing Kings teaching, healing, befriending sinners like us. We aren’t used to hearing Kings saying as they die, that those who have killed him are forgiven. He’s a long, long way from any king we might recognize.
And yet….and yet… a King he is. Not just a King, either, but the King, the King of everything, the King of everyone, whether they know it or not, the king of the universe. And the reason we find it difficult to work that one out is that this King comes to us, in about fifteen minutes, looking like a piece of bread, looking like a chalice of wine. That’s because he wants to feed us, this morning, with his own body and blood, so that we don’t grow faint on the journey. And then, later on, we will enthrone him, on the altar, and adore him, and he will give us his blessing. And all of that would be wonderful, if it wasn’t so terrifying.
Terrifying? This is not merely some benign, soft-hearted, favourite-uncle kind of King showing up. This is the King of all things, a king who has a claim on us. If to this Jesus is given all power in heaven and on earth:
if all of us, who he has bought out of slavery through his death on the cross;
If all of this it true, then there isn’t a single part of any of us that is not subject to him.
Christ the King has a claim on our minds, which should think of him often, and explore his words frequently, and with delight;
Christ the King has a claim on our hearts, which should love him above everything else.
Christ the King has a claim on our bodies, which should be used to serve others as he did, and to be subject to his will in all things;
Christ the King has a claim on our possessions, which should be used to his greater glory and for the advance of his kingdom here on earth.
Today is the last Sunday of the Church’s year. The next time we celebrate the Mass on a Sunday, a new year will have begun. Advent will usher in a new season of hope, expectation, excitement and anticipation, and we will indeed clear the roadways and sweep the rubbish from our souls. Why? Because although the Queen isn’t actually coming, the King is, for the state opening of our hearts. He’s coming in fifteen minutes – and he’s coming in thirty-five days. Let’s be ready.