I may be the last person in the Episcopal Church that dislikes calling the last Sunday of the Church year “Christ the King.”
The previous name was quite boring, the Last Sunday after Pentecost. It may be a pedantic name, but it did not introduce a problem when trying to solve a problem.
The problem is the word “king.”
I live almost exactly 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the Vancouver, British Columbia, Art Museum. As a result, I have been in a country with a monarch. That experience does not convey what the metaphor of Jesus Christ being a king is supposed to mean.
What do monarchs do?
A monarch drops the puck before the start of National Hockey League games. I was in Vancouver when that happened. Although not at the game, I did see it. It was live on all the television stations.
A monarch is honored by being on a coin called the Looney because of the bird on the reverse. Previously, the monarch was on the front of the $20 bill, with the “common loon” on the back. Do you think the Royal Mint of Canada is trying to tell us something?
A monarch proclaims things, even if actually proclaimed by her lieutenant governor in the province. Did Elizabeth II even know about this proclamation?
I have nothing against Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada and several other realms. To be honest, knowing several of her subjects living in Canada and other places, I feel that I have at least some concept of what it means for her to be Head of State that citizens of the United States of America do not have with our elected Head of State. There can be good in having a monarch (not that I desire one for the United States, mind you).
However, Elizabeth II is not queen as Jesus Christ is “king.” For that matter, nor was Victoria, Elizabeth I, John, or Æthelred the Unready.
For that matter, Jesus Christ is not a monarch that lives in a Disney castle modeled after the one built by Mad King Ludwig.
As a citizen and resident of the United States of America, my only experience of “kingship” is that of a figurehead, a mad person, or a fantasy. While I have some friends that would agree that such is a good metaphor for the idea of Jesus Christ, I do not.
The problem with calling the last Sunday after Pentecost the Feast of Christ the King is first you must redefine what you mean by “king” before you even come close to understanding what should be conveyed by this commemoration.
It is possible my Anglican sisters and brothers in Canada sense some of the problems I do with the name “Christ the King,” as they call it “the Reign of Christ.” However, it doesn’t solve the problem. What does it mean to reign?
I think a better solution would be to call the last Sunday after Pentecost (if you need a special name) by this name: the Triumph of Christ.
This name would convey what is important to remember. This is, at the end of time, Christ triumphs over all from his throne, the Cross.
What do you think?