ICF - Professions of Faith

Sunday 20th November 2022 - Last Sunday after Pentecost - Christ the King

hands at computer screen Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43
(Alternatives: Luke 1:68-79)

Today's Old Testament reading contrasts those who are perceived as failed shepherds, with those whom God will appoint as faithful and effective overseers of the people. This is a poignant analogy in a world where many rulers and leaders, both in the world of politics and business, are perceived to be self seeking and abusive of their power. This clearly presents an opportunity for congregations to pray for those in positions of authority and to consider its prophetic responsibilities to speak against injustice and unrighteousness. It is a reminder that God's Kingship extends across every aspect of society, and that our experiences of work, commerce and government are God's concern.

Yet today's readings might also encourage every member of a congregation to consider those areas of life where they have authority and power. This might be through the positions they hold within their own workplace, or roles they play in the community or other aspects of everyday life. We are called to live as those who recognise the Kingship of Christ in every aspect of our own lives; who are called to perceive every role and task as an expression of service to God.

There will be many whose experience of work is far from ideal, and whatever aspirations we might hold for it to be an expression of faithful service to God, the reality of experience may often feel quite different. Within today's readings are words of promise, liberation and salvation - the promise that God will come to the aid of an oppressed and ensnared people. The Gospel reading reminds us that the Kingship of Jesus is revealed rather than contradicted by the events of Calvary - the opressions and injustices of this world do not disappear, but are seen to be enlisted into God's salvation purposes.

And so we can live with all the struggles and contradictions that are so often revealed as we encounter the systems and structures of our world, confident that God's promise and our hope cannot be overcome by any human circumstance. This message is reinforced by the words of Colossians - believers are invited to seek strength, endurance and patience in every aspect of life and to recognise that we are servants of a God who has "reconciled all things" through the cross. The world of work is an expression and embodiment of these "all things" and so a congregation might pause to consider how we reconcile our faith and our working lives, and how work itself can become a vehicle of God's reconciliation. This may well be easier for some than others - yet this realisation returns us to the affirmations outlined above, that God's promise of hope and liberation endures even when human circumstances make it difficult to perceive.