Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Return of the King

Christ the King Sunday is such an interesting holiday. It often gets overlooked as people are already jumping into the Thanksgiving/Christmas fray. But it’s the New Year’s Eve of the Church. It’s the end of the liturgical year. And it’s so celebratory! With the readings over the past view weeks focusing on the coming judgment, wrath, and hell, it’s important to remember that the end is not a conclusion of sorrow and punishment. We’re on the winning side. Christ is King! It’s Arthur pulling the sword times a million. The proper king is in his land. All is well! Palm Sunday in its full, cosmic zenith. It’s a day that we should hold in mind throughout Advent. As we wait for baby Jesus in Bethlehem, we wait for the Second Coming as well, the arrival of the king.

But Christ the King Sunday is overlooked, I think. We decorate the church in white, only to soften to the green to purple transition. We check off another liturgical year. I never hear it mentioned outside of this weekend. Who pays attention to Christ the King Sunday?

ISIS does.

ISIS lives in the seventh century. It wants to recreate the seizure of the Levant. Its version of Islam involves feudal tribes who take over lands, own peasants, and justify political goal under a banner of God. It claims to fight the West/Rome/the Crusaders. It’s all the same thing. As Portlandia might say, “The dream of the 1090s is alive in Syria.” One of ISIS’s goals is to bring about the final battle between Islam and Rome, the battle that triggers armageddon.

ISIS has amped up its international attacks. It’s made specific threats against various places, including St. Peter’s Basilica. It also made threats against “Feast of Christ the King celebrations (Rome/worldwide).” Why? Because the holiday is Christian. Because celebrations mean lots of people gathered in one place. Because terror strikes at the everyday rituals: business, socializing, worship. If Christ the King is liturgical New Year’s Eve, then this is the same as an ISIS threat against Times Square on December 31. There should be large celebrations on this day. It should be something that ISIS hates. ISIS wants to stop the king from taking his throne. It wants to disrupt his royal processional. But in doing so, ISIS acknowledges that there is a processional. That is something we should all pay attention to. The king is coming. Just wait.

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