Sunday saw the end of the Liturgical Year, which always ends on a high with the feast of Christ the King. Tonight our adults Advent group meets for the first time and the theme of this, and our family advent group on Fridays, is The Kingdom of God.

The Kingship of Christ and concepts of the Kingdom of Heaven can become muddled if we look at examples of human rulers and kingdom. You don’t have to take a long look at history to find some truly awful monarchs (you can find Horrible History songs about many of them.) who wielded power for their own ends and made their people suffer.

The Gospel on Sunday was from Luke’s account of the Passion, when Jesus promises the repentant thief that he will join him in his kingdom. It is interesting reading to hear these words “‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’” The very point of having this Gospel on this particular feast shows that, unlike worldy kings or Emperors, Jesus was a king who rejected using power for his own purposes, to ‘save himself’.

We enter Advent with this in the air. Jesus’ reign is that of self-giving love.  When we consider the Kingdom of God, it is the Cross and Resurrection that define it. It was this that proved that Jesus Christ is the King God has promised; that he would lay down his life for humanity.

This Sunday we again enter a period of waiting and preparing, of penance. Our Advent Carol Service at 4pm at St Agnes will have music and readings that re-tell the story of salvation. Some many of these and other readings and music in Advent reveal the longing of the People of God for their Messiah, their King, who will bring about God’s reign. For us these next few weeks we not only enter into this longing and waiting but we have the opportunity to contemplate our Coming King, one who sacrifices himself that his kingdom might come into being for those he loves.