Forming Faith Blog

Who Is Your King? (November 24, 2019)

A golden crown and scepter. Christ the King Sunday challenges us to look at to whom we give our allegiance.
Isaiah: Injustice & the Promise of Justice

This week, we are finishing up the liturgical year and our last theme of the fall quarter for our Living the Word products. Last week, we heard from the prophet Isaiah both about God’s anger at the people’s injustice and God’s promise of future justice through the Messiah. While the verses in Isaiah 11 following the section assigned to last week makes it clear that this promised one is no mere human, you can see a partial fulfillment of this promise in the righteous King Josiah.

The Reign of Christ the King

This week, many of us will celebrate the festival of Christ the King (or the Reign of Christ). A significant point about this festival is that it is quite new, historically speaking. While the confession that Jesus is king is as old as the Gospels (and older in the promises of the Messiah), this particular festival was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. The pope established this festival to combat the forces of secularism and nationalism which would lead to extremes in Germany and Italy. The festival also was apparently established as a political statement on the “Roman Question” of who should control the city of Rome, the pope or the Italian king (the answer became Vatican City).

Who Is Your King?

This festival challenges us with a question: who is your king? Or, to put it in more modern, democratic terms: to whom do you give your allegiance? Clearly, the name of the festival itself gives the “correct” answer. This answer is basically the theme of the entire New Testament, it being a testament to the good news that Jesus is Lord (and the Roman emperor is not).

But that’s the theologically correct answer. Is it your personal answer, though? That of your faith formation participants? More specifically, as you go through your days and live your life, who (or what) gets your time and attention? This is the same train of thought we often go through when we seek a modern application of the First Commandment, what it means to have no other gods than God.

Preaching Politics

The principle danger here is when we limit this question just to our spiritual or religious life. In truth, the pope was addressing a political situation. A king is a political figure and the pope’s adversary, at least in terms of the Roman Question, was the Italian king. If I’m being cynical, I can note that, as Christ’s representative on earth, this means that the pope would be Christ’s (sole) regent. But, even in the Gospels, the confession of Jesus as Lord was a political statement, too.

In today’s political climate (at least in the United States), the question “to whom we give our allegiance?” is as relevant as ever.

Josiah the King

For those churches that follow the liturgical calendar, this festival brings to the fore one of the main drawbacks to the Narrative Lectionary, the fact that the connections between the festival and the designated reading are tenuous at best.

On this Christ the King Sunday, you can make a connection between King Jesus and King Josiah.

  • Both are anointed as kings.
  • Both followed God with their whole hearts (2 Kings 22:2).
  • Both demanded the people’s total allegiance to the LORD.
  • Both opposed the structures that kept the people from worshipping the one, true God.
  • Both directed the people to follow God’s way.
Midrash & the Question of Josiah

When I was considering which direction I was going to go in this post, I had to decide between focusing on Christ the King Sunday or the Bible story itself. It is clear which direction I chose, but I really like this story and am greatly intrigued by it. I specifically have two questions: how did it come about that the son and grandson of despicable kings become an exemplar of faith and devotion to YHWH? And, who was the prophet Huldah and what was her story? These questions cannot really be answered fully by the text. That’s where the beautiful Jewish tradition of Midrash comes in. This idea is permission to fill in the gaps with our own stories, inventing those missing parts of the story with our own creativity in storytelling.

Free Resource

This week, I am providing a free activity from our Living the Word: Cross+Gen Worship product, specifically from the Learning the Story (main teaching) activity. “Finding the Scroll” gets kids (and older) physically involved in the story by finding their own scroll.

Our Cross+Gen Worship product is a set of interactive worship guides with activities and liturgies focused on that day’s Bible passage. This product can be purchased for the whole year, by quarter (our winter quarter starts on Advent 1), by season (you can get an Advent & Christmas package), or even individual lessons. Try it out today!

Boldly go in God’s grace!

In Christ,

-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)

If you would like to know more about our perspectives on faith formation and cross+gen ministry, you can check out the following links:

For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our complete Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!

Be sure to download our free Narrative Lectionary 2019-2020 Planning Tool, NL Readings Overview, and Scope & Sequence