Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King

OK, folks, the feast is called Christ the King, not 'Jesus the King' for very good theological reasons.

Jesus was a person; Christ (en-Christing) is the process he taught; he wanted us to be as he is, with him, not seen as a remote 'been there, done that' figure who looks down on the rest of us, who did it so we don't have to. This latter view is a product of spiritual sloth, a refusal of the essential work of silence. The icon of the Transfiguration by Theophane the Greek, for example, shows a hierarchy as Jesus and the disciples go up the mountain (left vignette), and the disappearance of hierarchy as they come down (right vignette).

In one of the better translations of the usually obtuse NRSV, today's Epistle (Eph. 1:15-end) asks God to '... give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints ...' (itals. mine). The Gospel of John 14-17 is even more specific.

Jesus ascended for a very good reason: precisely to avoid the Jesus-idolatry that is so prevalent today. St Bernard of Clairvaux goes so far as to say that it's the most important doctrine in the Church.

The feast is about realised eschatology, apocatastasis realised in time, as well as the end of all things. Because that is the way it is even now, in the depths of each human heart, if only we will open to those depths, without needing to nail everything down, which removes all life and joy; which puts sound-proofing, as it were, in what is meant to be an echo chamber. Dear Clergy, you are meant to lead us into that echo chamber, disappear, and leave us there for the Holy Spirit to do her work.

To use hymns about 'Jesus' without the title 'Christ' today is a theological abberration: the name which is above every name is the en-Christed one.

Also an aberration is the contemporary church's tendency to regard congregations as idiots, to slice and dice, calling this the 'kingdom' season, for example, and (shudder) naming all the Sundays of Advent. These are classic examples of making linear and dead what should be left unsaid. The liturgy speaks for itself in all its multidimensional glory, and the congregations are generally better listeners than those who patronise them.


Blogger changeinthewind said...

Hi Maggie,

This is so useful! What is Christ is THE question that has always just stopped me cold.

What is Christ. Recently, not even a question mark to end it. Just dead words.

If Christ is process, is doing, the whole messey, mossy question becomes meaningless.

Completely owning the work of opening to ...

This is why there is no object to or within beholding, this is why we can (only) be hold?

There is no object precisely because there is no object.

Hah! Like any useful truth there is no real choice to it, is there!

I like this. Thank you.

6:31 pm, November 22, 2011  

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