Introducing: The Cross and Crown, Collect Reflections4
Welcome to The Cross and Crown, the new blog of Prince George Church. This is an exciting new project that we hope will encourage our readers and help us all grow deeper in relationship with Christ. My name is Ryan Landes, and I have the honor of serving at Prince George as the Lay Theologian in Residence and Catechist. Join me over the next seven weeks as we briefly meditate on the Collects to be used in worship over the next seven Sundays. The prayers we pray are often more formative than we might initially realize, and there is much to be learned by simply slowing down and carefully attending to the prayers our Prayer Book offer us. We begin with the Collect for Christ the King:
"Almighty and everlasting God, whose will it is to restore all things in your well-beloved Son, the King of kings and Lord of lords: Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
As Christians, we hope for the restoration of all things. But when we say we "hope" for it, we don't mean it in the way that we "hope" our football team will win the next game. Depending on who you are rooting for, the odds can change dramatically. But there are no odds on the restoration of all things, as if there is a chance it might not happen. Our Collect reminds of of this when it ascribes to God that great attribute of being "Almighty." For God to be Almighty means that if he wills something, it happens. Job confesses this in Scripture: "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2). God wills that all things will be restored, and because he is Almighty, we can be sure it will happen.
Our Collect also specifies how it will happen: through Jesus, who is "the King of kings and Lord of lords." So much could be unpacked here, but we will note only one feature that is particularly relevant to our cultural moment. Jesus is, right at this moment, the Sovereign (capital K King and capital L Lord) over all earthly authorities (lowercase k kings and lowercase l lords). This fact should relativize all trust and significance we infuse into politics. The rising and falling of any earthly kingdom or ruler can do nothing to truly threaten the Kingdom of God and its King. And it is only this King Jesus who can truly restore all things. Every earthly political promise of utopia must fail because no earthly politician is the Beloved Son, who alone can and will restore the world.
Only the Son has done what is necessary to restore the world: He has dealt with sin once and for all. All the evil and injustice we witness (and sometimes participate in) is fundamentally due, not to inadequate policies or unpassed legislation, but to the sin that divides and enslaves us. This means that the fundamental solution to our societal problems is not a political policy or new politician, but the Gospel itself. And the church, living in the Kingdom of God, must be a counter-culture: if the reign of sin looks like division and slavery, then the reign of Jesus looks like unity and freedom.
God began the project of restoring all things in the death and resurrection of Jesus. He continues it through the church, which proclaims the Gospel and announces the unity and freedom found therein. And He will bring it to full realization when Jesus returns to manifest in its totality his gracious rule. As we celebrate Christ the King and turn our hearts and minds toward Advent, let us pray this Collect with a renewed hope in Christ, the Ruler of All, who will certainly restore all that is broken. Amen.