About a week and a half ago a lady brought in a donation for the Kippax Christmas Appeal
It was one of three similar donations that she is making this year
to different organisations around Canberra.
The lady works in the kitchen of one of Canberra’s schools
This is the donation she brought to us
Around the same time,
I was contacted by a funeral director to conduct the funeral of the father
of a parent who was involved with the Kippax Kids playgroups around 15 years ago.
When the funeral notice went into the paper,
I noticed that the request to mourners was,
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to UnitingCare Kippax.
It is good for us to remember the generosity that we live amongst every day.
The Festival of Christ the King –
or Reign of Christ Sunday as it is more commonly known now –
is a strange one.
Most festivals are either based on events in the life of Jesus
(or, like Lent and Advent, helping us to prepare for them)
Or they are saints days.
One (Trinity Sunday) is a celebration of a theological doctrine.
Yes, we are a bit weird like that.
But the Reign of Christ is an overtly political festival and affirmation.
It was proclaimed in 1925
in the aftermath of the first world war and the clear rise of facism
Pius XI said:
Since the close of the Great War individuals, the different classes of society,
the nations of the earth have not as yet found true peace…
the old rivalries between nations have not ceased to exert their influence…
the nations of today live in a state of armed peace
which is scarcely better than war itself,
a condition which tends to exhaust national finances,
to waste the flower of youth, to muddy and poison the very fountainheads of life,
physical, intellectual, religious, and moral
This festival – which is celebrated on the last Sunday of the Church calendar (today) –
calls us to consider the world in which we live, and our place and our lives.
It is very easy for us at the moment to hear the stories from Mali, from Paris, from Beirut,
and to lament the world in which we live
and to think how much better it would all be if the world could just be a bit more Christian.
When we do that, it is easy to think that
the church then has something special –
a different spirit, a different character, to the rest of the world
and when we drop ourselves in the world
slowly the impact of this spirit flows from us.
But let’s also think about it this way:
One of the thoughts that goes on in and around churches
is an invitation for the church to consider two key things:
Firstly – how it is that we are attending to our ‘internal’ life.
The second – how are we attending to our ‘external’ life
Maybe there is something in this in terms of church planning
though I think the distinction
between “internal” and “external” is ultimately extremely unhelpful.
But ultimately the main difficulty I have with this is that it places the focus on the church.
It runs the huge risk of becoming “all about us”
And if there is one legacy I would LOVE to leave Kippax with when I finish next year
is the sense that it is not about us.
The spirit of God fills this world and the church in its many forms has a bit part.
An important part, but a bit part none the less.
The festival of the Reign of Christ
is a reminder that the spirit of God does not reside in the church
and eke out like ink from a sponge into a vast amount of water.
The spirit of God, the movement of God,
the way of God fills and envelopes the whole world.
The Council and the congregation have together affirmed this calling:
But if you notice, it may or may not distinguish us from anyone else.
The Church Council had a really meaningful time recently
recalling the story of the lady with the gift donation,
and the family with the funeral donations
and flipping our call around
to remind ourselves of how truly blessed we are
to live in a world where we are recipients of each and every one of these statements.
The Reign of Christ.
It is here. By no means is it fully here.
But it is here nonetheless.
Together we celebrate it, welcome it, receive it, and foster it