by Cara Holmquist
Jeremiah 29:1, 4-14
Christ the King Sunday is probably the youngest feast day in the liturgical year. (I could be wrong.) The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, between the World Wars, as secular ideologies swept the globe, and in the thick of sovereignty disputes in Italy. As a modern state took shape around the Vatican, absorbing the last geography of Christendom (which had of course been absorbed by powers before, in Italy and elsewhere), Pius sent an encyclical creating the feast. By the 70’s, it was incorporated into the liturgical practice and lectionaries of denominations around the world.
Christ the King Sunday is one of those teeth-gritting festivals, for me. It so easily skews triumphalist. It so easily skews otherworldly instead of incarnate (looking at you, Pius XI’s encyclical…). It so easily skews theology-of-glory instead of the cross. It so easily skews patriarchal, dominating, and colonial, instead of exposing these sinful tendencies of power.
by Elizabeth Rawlings
I was recently talking with a friend of mine about the difficulty of the use of dark and light in scripture -- especially as we move into Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. For many of us this language is so incredibly useful. In English, we have so many phrases that equate difficult times with darkness and hope with light. I know I often think about my own bouts of depression as being trapped in darkness and searching for light. And yet we have to be aware of the effect this constant equating of light and dark with good and evil has on our psyches when it comes to skin color, and what it would be like if the same word often used to describe your skin was always equated to bad in everything from Star Wars to scripture.
This friend pointed out to me that, in German, the words for light and dark skin are different than those for light as in day/sun/brightness and dark as in night/without brightness (see, it's even hard to just describe the difference because of our language). Hebrew isn't that different. To one who reads Hebrew, these words would clearly express illumination/lack thereof without association with skin tone. The words for dark and light used here are the same used in Genesis 1:4. And yet, as we read this in English, the broad possibilities of light and dark do lend to many interpretations. Even if we aren't coming out and saying the use of light and dark here is about skin tone (and most of us likely aren't), words and symbols are important. They seep into our brain and make connections we may not even be aware we are making. Without intentionally deconstructing these connections, our brains will always make light/dark: good/evil connections.
by Ray Gentry
Amos 1:1-2; 5:14- 15, 21-24
10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
11 Therefore, because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins--
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.
I couldn’t even start thinking about the reading for the week without reading through the first five chapters or Amos. Amos rattles off a litany of transgressions committed by Israel’s neighbors followed by those of Israel. God has no problem calling out the Israel - they are God’s chosen nation, but they are certainly not blameless.
It’s hard not to see how this very easily applies to us today. The moral failing of Israel (and the other nations) is largely focused on issues of justice. The reading ends reminding us what’s important to God. God wants none of our offerings of worship, song, and observance if we are not a people of Justice.