Yesterday millions of Christians celebrated “Reign of Christ Sunday,” the last Sunday of the Christian worship Year. At first blush, it’s odd to have one Sunday named that, since the Reign, or Kingdom, of God is a big deal in Christian faith. But it turns out that it came about in 1920s Italy, as the Pope’s reassuring response to the violence and injustice going on in the world at that time. My favorite paraphrase of that message is, “I’ve read the end of the Book – Christ wins!”
That statement may sound obvious to us as Christians. Of course Christ is ultimately in charge – at least theoretically. But when events are particularly hateful, hostile, me-first, and nationalistic, it can be hard to embrace that on a daily basis. Just like today: we meet scores of people, famous and otherwise, who think we’re past hope, politically, ethically, ecologically. Direct challenges to Christ’s Reign are going on all around us, so we need the attitude of Reign of Christ Sunday to remind us that Jesus Christ is ultimately in charge.
With that in mind, I was intrigued recently when devotional writer Bill Barnes wrote about our need to exercise our “spiritual income” 1 in order to have the strength to live through days marked by injustice and cruelty. He says exercising spiritual income includes daily prayer and Scripture reading, and actively pursuing justice by engaging in forgiveness and reconciliation.
I love that – especially the “actively pursuing justice” part. So it was neat to see that the same writer, Bill Barnes, is the pastor of Edgehill United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Edgehill is a congregation full of people who exercise their spiritual income! The year I worked in Nashville, I saw them act on Jesus’ priorities in their community, actively welcoming diversity and leadership from all people, embracing and training children, supporting advocacy groups, and initiating a “green team” to assess and correct our treatment of the earth.
While not all congregations can do all that they do, we can each do something that fits who and where we are. Whatever we do, exercising our spiritual income strengthens our trust in God, to hope, witness, and counteract the evils of our time.
Your partner in ministry,
1 = Bill Barnes, “Circles of Blessing,” Nov. 8, 2018, Upper Room Disciplines 2018, p. 371.