Rev. Andrew Cunnington
22nd November 2020
Christ the King

I’m sure we are all agreed on this – he should have the common decency to concede defeat.

Even in the most marginal states, recounts are not going to alter a single thing.

These legal challenges – well both sides are saying it – there’s no chance of it succeeding.

So why not just come out and say – the result is – I cannot continue and I know that.

Perhaps by the time you hear these words – things will have moved on in that way, but I have my doubts.

I’m sure you think I’m talking about Donald and maybe in one way, I am – but I am also thinking of you and me and the ways in which we too don’t like letting go of things we thought we had a good grasp on, or admitting that we need more help than we would like to believe.

Or, and this cuts to the heart of the matter this morning, at last giving space for Christ The King to really be the one to take the throne and giving way to our precarious hold on power.

If we were to finally look at our lives and concede defeat to Jesus – what sort of kingly rule would he set up in our place.

To give us a clue here is probably the most beautiful verse in any hymn you can imagine.

See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Verse three of When I survey the wondrous cross – it may be coming up to Advent – but that’s the hymn ringing in my mind today.

Since her death we have learned some things about Mother Teresa of Calcutta that challenge the image of saintly perfection we thought we saw. She struggled with faith more than we knew, she struggled with the work that was her life’s devotion amongst the poorest people in that place.

Her admission of struggle – her conceding defeat to perfection, does in my mind make her more worthy rather than less.

There is the story of a Priest from this country going out to Calcutta to visit the community in which Mother Teresa worked and whilst he was there he was invited to celebrate Holy Communion for the little Christian Community at the hospital. He had not seen Mother Teresa until that point – but when the people came forward to receive the bread and wine from him – he caught sight of this tiny figure at the back of the queue, shuffling her way to the front to receive the sacrament.

And the Priest recalls how unworthy he felt to give Communion to her and it was with some trembling that he placed the wafer into her tiny hand and he noticed her head tilt to one side in that moment – as if displaced by love – perfect gentleness and holiness as she received Communion that morning.

Later on that day he saw her again in the wards where the most pain stricken patients in the hospital lay seriously ill and he watched her go to the bedside of one who was crying out in anguish and as she bent over to take his hand – he noticed the same attitude in her as when she received communion from him earlier. Her headed tilted to one side as if displaced by love – perfect gentleness and holiness as she ministered to a patient in deepest pain and sorrow.

In our first reading this morning we are each invited to look inside ourselves and discover – what is the hope to which God calls us. How do we make his kingdom known.

That there is an inheritance coming mingled down from his hands, poured into our laps, for today, by which His glory can be made known to the world through the likes of you and me.

Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus went around recognising where there was sorrow and then he would pour his love right into the heart of it.

The sorrow caused by wondering if you might starve to death because you had no food.

The sorrow caused by wondering if you might freeze to death because you had no clothes.

The three sorrows – which we all stand on the brink of in these days:

The sorrow of feeling alone and like a complete stranger in this world.

The sorrow of feeling unwell and wondering what the way forward is going to be for us.

The sorrow of being shut in, in lockdown – and to all intense and purposes – imprisoned.

And where that is all true for us – He says – concede defeat – recognise you can’t put it right yourself and let my kingdom come.

And as the hymn reminds us – it is from the despair of the cross that Jesus’s love for the world and his sorrow for the world come mingling down together, like a shower of rain from heaven, that falls upon the most barren patches of our lives, rather than the most fertile.

That was the link Mother Teresa struggled with in her own life – the continuity between receiving bread and wine in love and giving herself over to ministering to the acute medical needs of another’s sorrow.

Where love and sorrow meet – thorns compose a richer crown beyond our imagining.

And we do not strive to wear it – rather we concede defeat – to the one who does.

MATTHEW 25: 31 – END