Invitation to Worship
Come to quiet yourself in this haven of holiness.
Be still and know . . .
Come to discern the Word which can set you free.
Be still and know that God is
our Hope, our Help, our Refuge, and our Redeemer.
At the name of Jesus
every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him
King of Glory now.
‘Tis the Father’s pleasure
we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning
was the mighty Word.
Humbled for a season,
to receive a name
from the lips of sinners
unto whom he came,
faithfully he bore it
spotless to the last,
brought it back victorious
when from death he passed.
Bore it up triumphant
with its human light,
through all ranks of creatures
to the central height,
to the throne of Godhead,
to the Father’s breast;
filled it with the glory
of that perfect rest.
In your hearts enthrone him;
there let him subdue
all that is not holy,
all that is not true:
crown him as your captain
in temptation’s hour;
let his will enfold you
in its light and power.
For this same Lord Jesus
shall return again,
with his Father’s glory,
with his angel train;
for all wreaths of empire
meet upon his brow,
and our hearts confess him
King of Glory now.
Caroline Maria Noel (1817 – 1877)
You are the King of Glory,
You are the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.
And we pray that your Kingdom will reign forever in our hearts and in this world.
Lord, we pray for your Kingdom to come here now,
bringing a kingdom of justice, righteousness, hope, love,
peace, mercy and grace for all.
Lord, we ask that you rule in our hearts,
lead in this world and govern over your kingdom.
But Lord honestly,
We often have our own plans and agendas
and we want to be rulers of our world.
Forgive us for those times.
And Lord we live in a time that would rather idolize the King of Pop
than worship you.
Help us to know how to live as your Kingdom People in these times.
And Lord there are a lot of Kings in this world who terrorize, over tax, humiliate,
over exploit, and abuse those they are to lead.
Help us to spread the good news of the different kind of King you are.
Lord, thank you for being a different kind of King.
Thank you for your goodness and kindness in our lives.
Thank you for your generosity.
Thank you for loving us.
Thank you for your Kingdom that is unlike any
Kingdom in this world.
Reading: Luke 23:33 – 43
33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ 38 There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Next week, it will be Advent Sunday, and the yearly cycle of the church’s life will begin all over again. Today we look back over the last year, celebrating our walk with Jesus from his birth at Christmas to his death and wonderful resurrection at Easter, and remembering all the stories of his life and work that we have heard over the last months. And to sum up the year, we focus on who he really is – Christ the King.
What kind of kingship is revealed in Christ? Luke paints a picture of an upside-down approach to power. For those who are already powerful, Christ’s claim to power is the reason only for mockery and contempt. The Gospel has told already the story of how Jesus was arrested, tried and condemned to death. Now Luke shows us a man humiliated and tortured on the cross, crowned with thorns, soldiers stealing his clothes, a label proclaiming him ‘king of the Jews’ though in their eyes he is nothing of the sort.
But for those who have no power, Jesus’ kingship has never been so obvious. The thief crucified alongside him knew that he was free from guilt, innocent of any charge, and he made that confession of faith – ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’. His complete powerlessness enabled him to recognise what the others failed to perceive – the might and majesty blazing from Jesus even as he hung there on the Cross.
When the Gospels tell us that Jesus is Lord, they have in mind the Lord who died alongside the poorest victims of Roman oppression. God’s power is made real in vulnerability, weakness and powerlessness. Jesus’ authority is not expressed through pomp and splendour, brocaded cloaks or jewelled crowns or sleek limousines. It is seen most clearly as he listens to those most in need and sits alongside those who are right at the end of their resources. This is why the Bible so often compares a good king to a shepherd – someone with a very ordinary job who has to pay close attention to the sheep so as to notice when something is wrong, and then do their best to sort it out. God’s kingship is about attending to those who cannot articulate their own needs. It’s about being alongside people, caring enough to notice when things are wrong, and using Godly power to put it right.
This is the Christ of the church – this is our Jesus. Are we there for each other in the same way as Christ is there for us? Do we take time to listen to each other, to notice what is wrong even when it remains unspoken? Do we pay attention to our neighbours, even when we are feeling vulnerable, facing trouble ourselves? Are we Christ-like in our engagement with others? For if we are, then the power of God will be there for us, helping us find the words and actions to make a difference and to draw others into the hope and promise of God’s kingdom.
Worship Song: The Splendour of the King (StF 15)
The splendour of the King,
clothed in majesty;
let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice.
He wraps himself in light
and darkness tries to hide,
and trembles at his voice, and trembles at his voice.
How great is our God,
sing with me: how great is our God.
And all will see how great, how great is our God.
And age to age He stands,
and time is in His hands;
beginning and the end, beginning and the end.
The Godhead, Three in One,
Father, Spirit, Son,
the Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb,
How great is our God…
Name above all names, worthy of all praise;
my heart will sing: how great is our God.
How great is our God…
Chris Tomlin (b.1972), Ed Cash and Jesse Reeves, © 2004 worshiptogether.com
Prayers for those in need
On this Christ the King Sunday we remember that Christ’s kingship does not shy away from the agony of the cross, the vulnerability of the incarnation, the risk and betrayal of human relationships in times of danger and threat. In our prayers for others, we are committing those we pray for into the hands of One who knows the frailties and troubles of human life.
And so we pray with compassion for those who hurt and fear and cry today
because they have been let down by systems or circumstances or the ones they love.
We remember those whose lives are most affected by climate change,
who face hunger, thirst, fire or flood in the heart of their homes.
Grant wisdom and conviction to those who hold the power to make a difference,
on global, national and individual levels.
We pray with love for those who are lonely or in pain,
and for those who care for family and friends in times of need.
We acknowledge the stress of being a carer
and the sometimes conflicting feelings of those who are cared for.
Bring comfort and encouragement, dear Lord, to situations of conflict,
and rest for those who bear the heaviest burdens.
We pray with faith for those we love the most,
and for those who have no-one to name them before You.
May Your presence surround and bless them today and always.
May they know they are loved and known and seen by You.
For those who grieve the loss of one they loved,
we pray especially that You will encourage them with strong memories
and a confidence in Your loving purpose, which holds all souls in life.
May we all take comfort from Your words,
“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
We give You thanks for the witness of those
who knew and followed You as their Lord and King,
and showed us what it meant to be a Christian.
May they know of our grateful love for them, now and always.
Worship Song: The Servant King (StF 272)
From heav’n You came, helpless Babe
Entered our world, Your glory veiled;
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live
This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King
There in the garden of tears
My heavy load He chose to bear;
His heart with sorrow was torn
‘Yet not my will but Yours,’ He said
Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice;
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered
So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him;
Each other’s needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving
Graham Kendrick (b.1950) © 1981 Thankyou Music
The love of Christ Jesus ever enfold you,
the love of God ever encircle you,
the fellowship of the Spirit ever enrich you,
now and evermore!
Worship resources drawn from Re:Worship and the Church of Scotland Weekly Worship.