This Sunday in the church year is known as the Reign of Christ the King. It marks the end of the liturgical year, and is always followed by the first Sunday of Advent. The readings for Christ the King are eschatological, in that they point to the final establishment of Christ’s promised kingdom. While my efforts today focus more on a diocesan initiative than they do on this occasion, I commend to you this very fine sermon by Brother Jim Woodrum, SSJE, although it focuses on slightly different readings for Christ the King.
For this Sunday, 22 November, the Diocese of Toronto is asking its parishes to focus upon FaithWorks, the Diocesan annual appeal to fund specific ministry partners supporting a wide variety of clients – the homeless, at-risk youth, refugees, newly released convicts, and many more. The video below is part of my appeal to the parish of All Saints to meet and exceed its support total fo last year’s Faith Works total. It’s not much of a sermon and it likely won’t interest those of you outside the parish, but it is, as I say towards the end, an opportunity for us to live out the charges that Jesus gives his church in our gospel reading from the end of Matthew 25, in which Jesus spells out the criteria by which he will judge the nations on his return.
It’s remarkable how these criteria – welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, feeding and caring for the hungry, visiting the prisoner – match the various goals of our FaithWorks mission partners. Supporting the work of FaithWorks aligns with our vocation as disciples, to participate with Jesus in making the kingdom of God visible to the world. Jesus says in Mt 25 that the full reality of the kingdom will come into being on his return, but he also says that in the temporal space between the now of these last words before his arrest, and the full glory of his return or parousia, there is ample opportunity for his disciples to make the kingdom real in their acts of charity.
The final collect in our Book of Common Prayer for the Sunday before Advent prays that God will “Stir up … the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of thy good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded” (BCP p. 259). Our reward doesn’t have to wait until the return and judgement of Christ. Our reward can amply found in doing the things Christ asks of us, such as supporting our FaithWorks partners, and thus finding the joy of serving a ruler far more real and more satisfying than any other the world may offer us.