Materials for Worship for Sunday 21st November, ‘Christ the King’.

Jeanette writes: Power! In today’s gospel (John 18:33b-37) we have two diametrically opposed definitions of power put before us. The question is which one do we choose to  live by?

Jesus has been brought before Pilate on charges of sedition, but Jesus, to Pilate, does not look like a serious revolutionary; he looks far more like a peasant. As yet the formal charges have not been made, so Pilate asks Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’  This is not a straight- forward enquiry, but asked rather in a tone of derision, implying that surely that could not be the case. It is not an idea that Pilate can accept.

Jesus’ response is to take Pilate seriously, to ask how Pilate came to ask this, when it wasn’t the charge against him, where did the question come from, from Pilate himself, or suggestions from others? The Jews were not Pilate’s favourite people, in fact he despised them; he was a Roman, one of the races that rules most of the known world. Jesus is a Jew, and his own people have handed him over to the Roman authorities; he can’t possibly be their leader. So, he asks, ‘What have you done?’

Jesus’ response is to talk of his kingdom, which is not of this world. Not of this world’s thinking or acting. If it were, Jesus rightly points out, his disciples would be fighting to rescue him. But a kingdom of love cannot use force to gain its ends. It is love which will keep Jesus on track, and on the cross, not weakness or lack of power. Jesus’ kingdom is one which captures hearts and wills.

What Jesus has to say is just so much gobbledygook so far as Plate is concerned. He doesn’t understand a word of it. It doesn’t fit in with his definition of kingly power, or any other kind of power come to that, at all. Because of Pilate’s limited understanding of kingship, that involves power, which is used to force and control people, Pilate asks again, ‘So you are a king?’   Jesus is unable to answer the question, and simply goes on to state why he is on earth, which Pilate doesn’t understand either, for Jesus has changed the whole nature of kingship by becoming the Servant King, and the Suffering Servant as well.

Our terms are too limited when it comes to describing the majesty of Jesus. A sad comment comes from the chief priests, who declare, ‘We have no king but Caesar’ sadly all too true, as they had rejected Jesus as their king.

The question for us then is have we chosen Jesus to be our King? Have we accepted his definition of Kingship, and welcomed it as the one we will live by? Do we strive always to live by his way of love, whatever happens to us or to those around us? Do we seek to let Jesus rule in our hearts and wills, or do we let other powers and events rule our lives? That is a question of crucial relevance, not only for us, but for the wider world, as it decides what our response to acts of terrorism should be, for instance. If Jesus is our king, then he is King in every situation which affects us, however good, or however horrendous, and if we follow him we accept his definition of kingship, the Kingdom of love. Let’s find the grace to pray earnestly, Your Kingdom come, your will be done, in us as it is in heaven. Amen.


(Please take time to form your own response to the petition before you move on to the next one; as you ponder on these huge issues think too on what Jesus’ response, the Servant King and the Suffering Servant would have been. What response would a kingdom ruled by love make?)

 As we look around at the injustice in our world, help us to discern what we can do to help right the wrongs.

We have heard much about Climate Justice during Cop 26, help us to discern our responsibility, and our countries’ responsibility for the plight of the poorer nations who are suffering because of the way we and our country has lived for the past 200 years, and to be prepared to work to change our own and our countries response to this.

As we approach the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, we remember the many countries where women are mere chattels with no standing in their communities to be abused on a whim, with no access to education. We remember the girls who suffer Female Genital Mutilation, the women abused in their own homes in our own country, we remember too that men are abused, on occasion just as badly, but not nearly as many of them, but they too need justice.

Help us to play our part in caring for our beautiful and fragile planet, so that it may thrive and regenerate, help us to discern the changes in our own life styes which will help this to happen.

We bring our prayers in the name of Jesus our Lord, our King, and our Saviour. Amen