Home Service Sunday 20th November 2022

Christ the King

Prayers of Approach

Lord, we come to worship you, the firstborn of all creation. For in you and for you, all things in heaven and on earth were created. You are the head of the Church. May we give you first place in everything. We worship you, our King and our Lord. We worship you.

Lord Jesus, King of kings, yet nailed to a cross; Son of God, yet with time for criminals; we offer you our lives, our successes and our failures, our excuses and our honesty, our desire to change and our reluctance. Speak to us today and draw us closer to you, that we may be transformed by your power and love – so unexpected… so amazing… so humbling. Amen.

Lord God, you are Compassionate and challenging, Humble and holy, Accepting and assuring, Near and now, Gracious and glorious, Exceptional and eternal – and we worship you today with gratitude and hope, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hymn Be still for the presence of the Lord (MP 50)

Readings: (Psalm 46)

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Luke 23:33-43


What makes a good king? Jeremiah wrote many words describing the shortcomings of Israel’s kings in his time. By contrast, he uses the image of a shepherd to describe the role of the good king. A good king, like a good shepherd, provides security for the people, holding them together and enabling them to feel safe. Jeremiah promises the perfect king, described as a branch stemming from the roots of David’s dynasty. His actions will be marked by key characteristics: wisdom, justice and righteousness. These will ensure that the people are at peace with one another.

On the cross, Jesus is mocked as a false messiah by Jewish leaders, Roman soldiers and one of the criminals dying beside him. He forgives those who are crucifying him and welcomes ‘the penitent thief’ into paradise.

It cost so much for Jesus to show us a new kind of kingdom, God’s kingdom – a world in many ways turned upside down. It was costly for his followers too. We explore the implications of this for us today – the challenge of change and the cost of doing so.

Hymn From heaven you came, helpless babe (R&S 522)


This is the last Sunday before Advent and in many churches it is marked as ‘Christ the King’ Sunday. It is a quite recent addition to the church calendar, having been instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, but quickly gained acceptance and is now celebrated by Christians of many other denominations. An older name for the last Sunday before Advent in England though is ‘Stir-up’ Sunday which comes from the words of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England which begins, ‘Stir us up, we beseech thee, O Lord.’ It gave rise to a tradition of making the Christmas pudding on this day and everyone in the household being called into the kitchen to give the pudding mixture a stir before it was cooked.

The Jewish people were certainly expecting the promised Messiah to stir things up when he came but what sort of a Messiah did they expect? Isaiah had prophesied one who would be called ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6), and today’s Psalm promised that God would ‘make wars cease to the ends of the earth’ (Psalm 46:9) but how was he to do this? Kings depend on bows, spears and shields, or the modern day equivalents, to maintain their power but God is able to destroy all the little weapons of human aggression and establish a place of security guaranteed by God’s own presence.

Most of the Jews therefore expected a Messiah who would come as a mighty king leading an invincible army, who would make wars to cease by totally annihilating all their enemies. And even if they thought about the ‘good shepherd’ promised by Jeremiah the safety and prosperity which the shepherd would bring would come after the military defeat of their oppressors. Only then would the king ‘deal wisely and execute justice and righteousness in the land’ Jeremiah 23:5).

In Jesus however we meet a very different king. It seems strange that just as we are getting ready to celebrate Christ’s birth in a few weeks’ time the lectionary reading from Luke’s gospel takes us to his crucifixion. What has the mocking, humiliation and agonising death of Jesus got to do with his kingship and glorious reign? But it is about kingship! The soldiers jeer, ‘if you are king of the Jews…’ not knowing how close they come to the truth, and the sign above his head, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’ holds an irony not appreciated by those present, witnessing the scene. The only person who seems to recognise the truth is one of the criminals crucified alongside him who says, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Luke 23:42). There is a stark contrast between the rough justice of a world which condemns someone to a horrible death for some unspecified crime and the kingdom of Jesus where a criminal is welcomed as a companion.

How could we describe Jesus’ kingship in terms that are meaningful to our modern world? And where do we recognise costly Christ-like leadership that can illuminate his kingship for today’s world?

Hymn Make way, make way for Christ the king (R&S 141)

Prayers of Intercession

Christ of the Cross, though we are undeserving, we praise you for your love; though we are slow to understand, we praise you for your patience; though we are quick to defend ourselves at the expense of others, we praise you for your grace. Inspire us to look not only to our world, to your kingdom of love and freedom. We praise and thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for us.

O God, where voices proclaim other kings and other lords, re-establish your reign; where tyrants and dictators oppress the poor and the hungry, topple their thrones and rescue the oppressed. O God, where so-called prophets and priests abuse their influence, expose their deeds of darkness with your awesome light; bring your justice to reign and may a new integrity be born in places of authority. O God, where your name has been forgotten, where mere lip service remains, where your people have neglected or misunderstood their purpose, make yourself known as king, and with tender mercy, restore those hanging on by a thread. O God, in our lives here today, reveal your heart to us, remind us of your might and of your mercy, you who shepherd us with love and grace. Create in us a kingdom that will change this world. In the name of Christ the King, Amen.

Hymn Rejoice the Lord is king (R&S 657)


Lord, show us where and how we can serve you, the king who serves and gives yourself for us. In our words and in our lives, we will worship you. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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