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“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

 

Christ is the High King of Heaven, but He is also our King.  We do not relate much to kings in our dear republic.  A king is a sort of father to his nation.  The nation is his to rule in authority, but he ought to rule in love.  As we may recall from our own Revolution and George III, a king does not always love his subjects as his children.  Christ the King always remembers that we are poor fallible creatures ever prone to sin.  But instead of berating us or damning us, God the Father sent God the Son into the world, taking up our human nature without in any way laying down His divine nature.

Christ loves us.  St. Paul writes in his Epistle to the Ephesians:  “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

Christ has earned His Kingship, His Lordship over us, but He did not have to earn it, because while Christ is Man, He is God as well, and as God He created the Heavens and the Earth.  We owe Him everything, because everything we have comes from Him.

We are His creatures.  We are His subjects.  And good faithful Christians are His good and faithful servants.

So:  What does it mean for us to be subjects of Christ the King?

Well, we must worship Him.  Worship means that we account Him as worthy; the word worship can be thought of as worth-ship.  We worship Christ every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation in the worship that is not created by His subjects out of our imaginations, but in the Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Not only do we worship Him, we eat and drink Christ; we consume Him, and we become part of Him, just as He is part of us.  He says plainly in the Fourth Gospel:  “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.”

Not only do we worship Him and commune with Him, we fast in remembrance of Him every single Friday of the year except in the Holy Season of His Nativity – Christmastide.  We fast before we receive Him in the Body and the Blood.  We abstain from meat because meat is fancier than vegetables and bread, and because Christ gave His own flesh for us.  When we fast, we do not simply refrain from eating something; we remember why we don’t eat something; we remember for Whom we do not eat something.

Not only do we worship Christ our King, commune with Him, and fast for Him, we also remember with our substance that He gave us our lives and everything that we have.  He gave us every single thing that own, both our lives and our possessions.  We are commanded in Scripture, in Malachi, to keep for our use nine-tenths of it.  We offer only a small token of our entire wealth – ten percent – as a memorial for the goodness and riches of God.

Not only do we worship, commune, fast, and tithe, in order to be loyal subjects – not even exceptional subjects, mind you – in order to be loyal subjects of Christ our King we must follow Christ in using our bodies only for God in keeping His Bride the Church’s Law of Marriage.  That is, we must keep ourselves chaste.  We must not commit adultery.  We must not commit fornication.  We must not sexually please ourselves with our own sex or with the opposite sex.  If we are married, we are married for our Lord and King and serve Him in our marriage with our bodies.  If He wills it, we raise up godly children in a godly household.  If we are not married, we remain single for our Lord and King and serve Him in our singleness with our chaste bodies as well.

Not only do we worship, commune, fast, tithe, and remain chaste, but we earnestly search our lives for any disloyalty to Christ our King in our words, our thoughts, and our actions.  When we sin, we commit high treason against the Lord God of the cosmos and against Christ, his only Son, the King of all that is and all that will be.  We confess our sins to Christ, in private, in public worship, and in private sacramental confession.

We confess to Christ, because Christ is not only our King, Christ is our great High Priest.  When we sin against God, we commit treason, have beaten and killed the only Son of the Father.  We have rejected life everlasting and eternal happiness by choosing, by committing, by aiding and abetting the rebellious side of rape, murder, and cancer.  Since we have voted with our selves, our souls and bodies, to kill Christ upon the Cross, we have wandered off by ourselves into the trackless desert of sin without water or shade, where we will surely die.  Christ offers Himself to the Father eternally in Heaven, and only through the Veil of His Holy Flesh can we enter into the Holy of Holies to live with God the Father in Heaven forever, enjoying the fullness of human happiness that we were intended to enjoy since the beginning of time.  Christ is King, and Christ is Priest.

This is why God gave His faithful the priesthood throughout the ages.  The Jews, the Chosen People, enjoyed the Aaronic priesthood.  In His Body, the Church, Christ has instituted the Sacrament of Holy Order and made some of his men into priests.  They are to love the children of God on Earth as he loves them from Heaven.  They are to re-present in divine worship the giving of Christ up to the Father.  They are to teach Christ’s teachings to His people.  They are to show forth the virtues of Christ and to live lives in the Holy Ghost which the people can look to for example.

But while I am a priest and I am your spiritual father here in Augusta, we are also a priestly people who live the life of Christ to the people of this fair city.  Just as we look into the eyes of Christ and see the Father, just as you look into my eyes and see Christ, so all your neighbors look into your eyes and see Christ; indeed, you look into each other’s eyes.

We turn our backs to treason, sin, and death and live fruitful, happy, loving, and productive lives for Christ, in Christ, and on Christ’s behalf.  This means that we obey happily and completely the six basic Duties of Churchmen – worship, communion, fasting, chastity, tithing, and confession.  We exercise and build up our spiritual lives through these Duties and through regular prayer and study of Scripture.  We love our neighbors as ourselves, and serve them as Christ came to serve us.  And in all this, we proclaim Christ’s advent, teaching, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven to the right hand of God the Father where right this very second He intercedes for each of us and each of those people out there.

But here’s the thing:  They don’t know that.  Oh, some of them do.  But most have no idea.  Or worse yet, they have just enough of an idea about Christ to think they know all about Him.  They don’t know about living in holiness as an offering or oblation of self to God.  They don’t know that by being stingy with God’s gifts that they dishonor God.  The culture around us tells these valuable people who are precious in the sight of God that all sorts of things are okay which yet dishonor themselves and their God.  The people around us moan and groan in the pains and disappointments of this life but do not have the consolation of the Holy Ghost.  They think that this is all there is.  They don’t think that they are the creatures of a mighty God who loves them, who sent his only-begotten Son into the world to save them.  They thirst for adventure, they hunger for meaning, they thirst for righteousness, when it is all right beneath their nose!

Serving Christ the King is neither comfortable nor convenient.  The only apostle not to be executed, to be martyred, for remaining loyal to Christ was St. John.  That’s a more than 90% mortality rate.  Three days ago I spoke to our missionary bishop of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Militias rage, pillage, and murder across the landscape of that country.  Entire parishes have been wiped out – our brothers, killed, our sisters, raped and killed.  These are not some faraway missionaries, these are Anglican Catholics whose bishop could not save them.  He has a Prayer Book, not an army.

Moslems kill Christians across the globe.  Our Diocese of the South is part of the Original Province.  The Second Province is the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon, which keeps alive the traditional Anglican faith in south Asia.  The son of the Archdeacon of Pakistan keeps watch over his father saying Mass.  He holds an AK-47 in his hands lest they are attacked.  We are blessed to have a faithful old soldier keeping watch over our door, and that he does not need to be armed.

To worship Christ our King as good and faithful subjects, we must worship Him, give Him honor in chastity, generosity, and honesty, and receive His Blessed Sacrament.  But to truly honor Christ, we must look after our brothers and sisters in all their difficulties, from flat tires and unexpected pregnancy to war and famine, and attend to their needs.  Indeed, we must look after all those who do not know Christ enough to repent and be saved, by sharing with them the life-giving Gospel of Christ.  We owe our neighbors and brethren these things not for their sake, but for the sake of Him Who sent us, Who poured us out into the world to obey Him and carry His ministry of love and reconciliation to the ends of the Earth.

My children, Angela and I met our brethren from six of the seven continents this past week.  Looking into our American and Canadian dioceses, I can assuredly tell you that we have many wonderful and flavorful priests and lay folk here.  But all of them belong to one of two fundamental kinds of parishes:  Growing or dying.

Growing parishes have vibrant education and spiritual development.  Dying parishes have nothing but coffee hour.  Growing parishes give generously to missions both foreign and domestic.  Dying parishes scrounge and try to keep the lights on.  Growing parishes welcome every stranger who visits them without clinging to them, serving them in their need.  Dying parishes seek more warm bodies to fill essential positions and to give and pay the heating bill.  Growing parishes tend to be optimistic.  Dying parishes recount horror stories from people long gone.  Growing parishes look at new ways to serve their members and the community.  Dying parishes care primarily about their long-time members and preserving things the way they were.

In Deuteronomy, Moses solemnly charged the congregation of Israel:  “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

 

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.

 

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