Monday, November 26, 2012

"And what is this 'glory of the Lord'?"

In our worship for Christ the King Sunday, St Francis House observed a time of reflection in lieu of the homily. Specifically, the time was oriented to help us reflect on 1) the nature of the Kingdom of the Crucified King, and 2) the place this feast holds as the last Sunday of the year - and so at a time wherein examination of our own lives seems especially appropriate. To the first goal, we read an excerpt (below) from the Early Church in which themes of kingship, coming, Christmas, and cross are richly interwoven. To the second end, I asked three questions spaced over a time of silence. Following the silence, we collected ourselves and our intentions in the song at the end of this post, which rightly, I think, situates followers of the King whose glory is the cross.

A reading from a sermon of Andrew of Crete, Bishop and Hymnographer [740], from Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, J. Robert Wright:

Let us say to Christ: "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel." Let us hold before him like palm branches those final words inscribed above the cross. Let us show him honor, not with olive branches but with the splendor of merciful deeds to one another. Let us spread the thoughts and desires of our hearts under his feet like garments, so that entering us with the whole of his being, he may draw the whole of our being into himself and place the whole of his in us. Let us say to Zion in the words of the prophet: "Have courage, daughter of Zion, do not be afraid. Behold, your king comes to you, humble and mounted on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden."

He is coming who is everywhere present and pervades all things; he is coming to achieve in you his work of universal salvation. He is coming who came to call to repentance not the righteous but sinners, coming to recalled those who have strayed into sin. Do not be afraid, then: "God is in the midst of you, and you shall not be shaken."

Receive him with open, outstretched hands, for it was on his own hands that he sketched you. Receive him who laid your foundations on the palms of his hands. Receive him, for he took upon himself all that belongs to us except sin, to consume what is ours in what is his. Be glad, city of Zion, our mother, and fear not. "Celebrate your feasts." Glorify him for his mercy, who has come to us in you. Rejoice exceedingly, daughter of Jerusalem, sing and leap for joy. "Be enlightened, be enlightened," we cry to you, as holy Isaiah trumpeted: "for the light has come to you and the glory of the Lord has risen over you."

What kind of "light" is this? It is that which "enlightens every one coming into the world." It is the everlasting light, the timeless light revealed in time, the light manifested in the flesh although hidden by nature, the light that shone round the shepherds and guided the Magi. It is the light that was in the world from the beginning, through which the world was made, yet the world did not know it. It is that light which came to its own, and its own people did not receive it.

And what is this "glory of the Lord"? Clearly it is the cross on which Christ was glorified, he, the radiance of the Father's glory, even as he said when he faced his passion: "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him, and will glorify him at once." The glory of which he speaks here is his lifting up on the cross, for Christ's glory is his cross and his exultation upon it, as he plainly says: "When I have been lifted up, I will draw all people to myself."

Questions for reflection in silence:

In what moment(s) or season of this past year did you feel closest to God?

What practice or practices were most up-building to you in your life of faith?

In the year ahead, in what particular area or areas of your life do you most feel/hear God calling you to grow or develop?

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