Christ the King Sunday and 2020

In our Zoom worship this morning, our leader talked about the lectionary, how it is structured, how it can be useful in how we approach the Bible and connect with God and each other.

For a variety of reasons I haven’t been blogging much this year, but as we end this Christian year on Sunday 22 November 2020, I thought there was something to write.

2020 has been the year of COVID-19. I am so lucking that I live in Australia, with one of the few countries that have managed this Pandemic well. Interestingly it has been mainly our neighbours in Asia and the South Pacific that have also performed well, and not the “powerhouses” of civilisation, Europe and the USA.

Even in Australia, however, I have noticed a level of selfishness that has caused me concern. The main reason for my limited blogging has been I had a nasty fall, resulting in a significant shoulder injury in March 2020. So far, that injury has led to 3 major operations on the shoulder, two other procedures that required anaesthetics and another non-invasive procedure that ended up with me being in an Intensive Care Unit for two nights. I have at least one more surgery to come, and I will end up with a permanent partial disability with my left arm. So with COVID, it has been a taxing year.

I can’t drive at the moment, and occasionally I have used public transport to travel to large shopping centres to access some services. The selfishness I have seen has been the lack of mask-wearing, even when highly recommended by our State Government. My systems are weak, and it seemed many people were focusing on themselves rather than on others.

But compared to Europe and the United States, I consider myself highly blessed.

Our State Political Leaders have led, and on more than one occasion stared down the Australian Prime Minister who seemed more focused on the economy rather than society and the health of our people and our community.

All this brings me to today’s lectionary, marking the end of the Christian Calendar for 2020.

You can use this link to find the readings. https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=170

In the Ezekiel reading, we hear of God who sits in Judgement and determines which people will be in and out of his nation and anointing David as the King. But the King will feed all of his flock.

In the Psalm reading, we are called to worship joyfully. There is no requirement that it being in a physical building that we might now call a Church. In my Christian communities, we have been able to be joyful and worshipful, using Zoom live or YouTube on demand. In this way, we have protected each other and our broader society. I am saddened by so many Christian leaders who demanded their religious right to open their Churches against medical advice, only to have themselves, and many in their communities become infected with COVID. That is not loving, that is arrogance and self-centredness.

Then finally, the Gospel reading, the centre of the Christian faith. Matthew’s telling of Jesus story of the “Sheep and the Goats”.

  • “for I was hungry and you gave me food
  • I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink
  • I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
  • I was naked and you gave me clothing,
  • I was sick and you took care of me,
  • I was in prison and you visited me.”

At least my observation in Australia, we tried to do some of these things better.

Once we got over panic buying, many people did try to ensure that those without food were able to get some as the usual community sources had limitations.

To protect the rest of society, we rounded up the homeless and housed them. I am not convinced that as a society, we will continue that care and compassion when we should.

I am not sure we did so well with strangers, as we closed borders, and here in Australia, many Australian’s of Chinese heritage were verbally assaulted by their neighbours. Probably in part due to racist overtones in our society and some political leaders in Australia and abroad calling out the virus as a China caused problem.

We did focus on the sick, with reasonably an extra effort for those with COVID. I have been fortunate in being able to access a world-leading health system. Whilst not perfect, I never had to wait for treatment, but I didn’t rely on fully the public health system, and if I did, it might have not as great. As a society, are we going to fund our health system so all can have access to timely, safe and supporting medical support without an extensive waiting list? I do want to thank the medical teams that have helped me so amazingly this year.

When prisoners were locked down to protect them from COVID, they didn’t have access to visitors. One side effect was the early release of prisoners who weren’t a risk to society. For me, this raised the political question, that we need to stop the ratcheting up of “law and order” politics with a “lock them up mentality.” This does society no benefit in the longer term.

From Australia, I watched in horror the evangelicals who seek power in the USA at the expense of all these elements Jesus has so plainly laid out.

As we end this Christian year, our New Years Eve for the new Christian year, perhaps it is time to reflect on 2020, and how Christ the King is calling us to be a society in 2021.

Many political leaders are calling for the resumption of normal. COVID had drawn our attention to many things that were normal but not acceptable, particularly if taken through the eyes of Jesus.

I believe as the people of Jesus, we need help society and our political leaders find a new normal. This sounds like an excellent starting model:

  • “for I was hungry and you gave me food
  • I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink
  • I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
  • I was naked and you gave me clothing,
  • I was sick and you took care of me,
  • I was in prison and you visited me.”
.

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