It’s the last Sunday of the church year. The calendar year runs from January 1 to December 31. The church year runs from Advent to Christ the King.
A year ago, we started the year with the first Sunday of Advent. The four Sundays of Advent help us prepare for Christ’s second coming by helping us think about his first coming.
The last Sunday of the church year, Christ the King, reminds us that although he’s not here yet, in fullness and vision, Christ is still the king.
Reflecting on the texts for this day, four observations about Christ the King came to mind. Here is one of those.
Christ the King is a shepherd, a shepherd who cares about sheep. It is possible to be a shepherd who doesn’t care about sheep, of course, who is simply in the business of mutton and lamb. We all know people who only care about their job for money, not for the caring or for the helping or, deep down, for the people. We fear those people, most of us are skeptical of the quality of care we receive from those people.
So is God, when it comes to God’s people, God’s sheep. We read from Jeremiah on Sunday about the care God’s sheep were receiving. The shepherds, who were supposed to care for the sheep, were instead destroying and scattering them. They were, as Jesus would later say, hired hands. They didn’t protect the sheep from external attacks. They didn’t, as David would write about shepherds, lead them beside still waters and restore their souls.
We feel that a little. Instead of feeling defended by shepherds, we sometimes feel attacked by them. It’s why many people are uncomfortable with churches.
But Christ is the King and Christ the king is a shepherd.
In fact, John records the words of Jesus, “I am the good shepherd.” And Jesus talks about how he cares for and protects his sheep, against wolves outside and inside. And he will judge the shepherds that don’t.
He will search for and rescue lost sheep. He will care and love.
Saint John of the Mall: Reflections for the Advent Season can help you think through the Advent season.