Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | November 19, 2022

Congregation Update : Giving it up

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

Dear friends,

This Sunday, November 20, we observe The Reign of Christ, also called The Feast of Christ the King. We are thrilled to welcome special guest preacher Prof. Angela Davis to the pulpit as we celebrate the feast.

The concept of Christ the King necessarily has some biblical resonance, but the observance dates from 1925, as Pope Pius XI strove to lead a Christian people in a time of rising secularism and nationalism. We would rightly wrestle with the feast’s empirical thrust and presumption of Christian superiority. But if we stop there, we will have missed the greater aspirations of the pontiff and Christ himself: peace.

“My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus says. The rulers of this world erect borders, control stories, and amass fortunes and arsenals in pursuit of power or to prevent its loss. The first goal of the state is its preservation, not the welfare of the planet and its people. Jesus has something completely different in mind: the life of the world. He gives himself up. He empties the coffers of his blood and breath. His body writhing on a crude instrument of torture, he forgives. 

This is where the church year ends. It is meant to be arrested, to disrupt the status quo. It is meant to inject a divine truth into the human tendency to interpret a curated subset of facts in support of our own limited aims. What is truth? This is where the church year leaves us — this is the question posed by Christ the Crucified King in the Gospel, according to John. What is truth? “Truly, this man was God’s son.”

The church’s response to the question is Advent, a season of preparation and anticipation of what is to come. The end gives way to the beginning. We pray for the dawning of grace and truth, light and peace. It is in every way as vulnerable as the cross. We begin seeking the poverty of the manger; an infant barely covered from the elements, the stench of manure, and the harshness of the hay. If we receive him there, follow him from the manger to cross and back again, a sword will pierce our own heart, too.

The life and reign of Christ, and membership in his body, the Church, is inherently vulnerable. It asks us to set aside this world’s calculations and make the Christian body and mission our common denominator. It asks us to give thanks for all that we have received without harboring resentment for the things we’ve had to release along the way. It asks us to give ourselves up, to loosen the ego’s hold on our thoughts and feelings, and develop a deep reverence for life and for one another.

Please join me in a gesture of reverence and thanksgiving for our shared life and mission, and make your pledge to the 2023 Stewardship campaign today. Then, join the celebration on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, at 11 am, also Ingathering. Our money, our selves, and substance gathered together, become the symbol and sign of Christ’s self-offering for the world. It’s other-worldly and yet in this world. It’s sometimes messy and vulnerable. It’s where grace and truth are found.

With love,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

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