No One Missing
Reign of Christ Sunday
SUNDAY, November 20
Documentaries about cult leaders and con artists have proliferated on every streaming service, as we try to understand charismatic leaders who use their power for evil ends. We are surrounded by examples of poor leadership, of those who mistreat the vulnerable and manipulate their flocks, seeking selfish gain rather than the good of those in their care.
Conversely, there is a never-ending supply of books, podcasts, and conferences that try to teach good leadership. We long for those in positions of authority to provide care and to advocate for the vulnerable, to create communities where all can flourish and all are accounted for.
This is what the reign of Christ is like. The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God himself will gather the people and provide caregivers and leaders for them. Under the reign of Christ, no one will be missing and no one will live in fear.
May we know the tender care and provision of Christ, and may we become people who shepherd others as Christ does us. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: AWARENESS OF THE WORLD’S NEEDS
At the Table
MONDAY, November 21
During the Covid pandemic, we missed eating together. We couldn’t have people over for a meal, couldn’t go out to a restaurant together, couldn’t have a church potluck or even coffee hour. We are diminished when we can’t gather around the table.
We long for the intimacy and community of a shared meal. And the reign of Christ is most clearly modeled, not in the throne room or the board room, but around the table, breaking bread together. On the eve of his death, Jesus wants to eat with his friends.
What incredible words: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you” (v. 15, NIV). What an astonishing reality: Christ is eager to be in intimate relationship with us. At the table, Jesus gives thanks, acknowledging God as the source of our nourishment and fellowship. Then he feeds his disciples, offering them the loaf and the cup just as he will offer them his body and blood.
May we be eager to gather around Christ’s table, to fellowship with Christ’s family, to be fed by Christ’s gift of himself. Amen.
One Who Serves
TUESDAY, November 22
My worst boss ever was an aspiring tyrant, demanding perfection with little grace or patience for errors. By contrast, the best boss I ever had was gentle and considerate, making sure each employee had what they needed to succeed.
In today’s passage, Jesus tells his disciples that the reign of Christ is exemplified by humble service rather than domination. Rather than jockey for position and fight to achieve exalted status, Jesus’s followers are to willingly take on the posture of ones who serve. Jesus repeats that phrase “one who serves” three times, concluding by saying that he himself is among them as a servant.
The reign of Christ is surprising and subversive, nowhere more so than when Jesus inverts our hierarchies to elevate the lowly and humble the proud. And he models this for us, showing us how to serve one another so that we can imitate his example.
May we be people who serve as Christ served. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: COVENANT WORLD RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT
I Have Prayed for You
WEDNESDAY, November 23
Luke 22:31-34, 54-62
This passage does not appear to be a triumphant moment in the reign of Christ. There is nothing lordly about this scene as Jesus’s closest followers turn away from him and even deny him outright.
Yet what a marvel, that Jesus our king has also known betrayal and denial. The Christ who reigns has also suffered in all ways as we have suffered; he has known the depths of our pain, including our relational pain. Jesus does not just serve us; he accompanies us in the most difficult of our experiences.
It is remarkable that Jesus, predicting that Peter will not be faithful, still prays for Peter that his faith will not fail. Jesus not only understands our weaknesses; he prays for us and remains faithful to us when we are not. He gives us an example of loyal, steadfast love and care, inviting us to share that same love with one another.
May we remain faithful to Christ as he has been faithful to us, and care for others as Christ has cared for us. Amen.
THURSDAY, November 24
There are few feelings worse than being falsely accused and wrongly identified. We long to be known fully and well, and we crave justice deep within our souls.
In this moment before the elders and before Pilate, Jesus is misrepresented and misunderstood, wrongly accused of things he never did and saying things he never said. Yet in the face of opposition and hostility, Jesus knows his purpose and his identity. He confidently proclaims that he is God’s child, the representative and representation of God’s power.
All the powers—political, religious, and military—are arrayed against him, but Jesus refuses to engage his enemies on their terms. He does not indulge the king’s curiosity, refute the accusations of the religious leaders, or resist the mockery of the soldiers. Jesus knows that the ultimate power and authority are God’s, and that no earthly power nor the very gates of hell can prevail against the reign of Christ the true king.
May we share in the assurance that we are citizens of Christ’s kingdom, not subjects of empire, and rest in Christ’s power. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: TO REMEMBER TO SAY THANK YOU
All Things Hold Together
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 25
Are you holding it all together? Most often, we are not. We feel responsible for the welfare of our families, our workplaces, our churches, our communities—even our world. But there is no way we can mend everything that is broken or care for every need that arises.
The Christ who reigns holds all things together. He is the head, he is the beginning, he is the creator. He is the image of God, and God’s fullness dwells in him. He reconciles all things to himself and makes peace with all through giving of himself.
We participate in the reign of Christ, but we are not on the throne. We dwell in the presence of God, but we are not God. We are emissaries of peace, but we are not the ones who accomplish the work of reconciliation. We are created through Christ and for Christ, and he holds us together along with all creation.
May we know the peace of Christ who holds all things together, and may we rest in his reign. Amen.
SATURDAY, November 26
This psalm seemed mere metaphor until I moved to the Oregon coast where we lived under constant threat of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, one that would literally shake the mountains of the Coast Range and raise a deadly tsunami out of the ocean depths. As we studied potential inundation zones and mapped our emergency assembly areas, the idea of refuge became a literal need.
The psalmist proclaims that God reigns over all the earth, but God is also with us in our trouble. Not only the natural world, but wars and weapons of violence are subject to God’s power as well. The earth—the very ground beneath our feet—may change, but God is present in our midst.
In a world that feels constantly under threat from conflict and disaster and forces beyond our control, we are invited to live without fear. This audacious possibility can only happen within and because of the reign of Christ, our refuge and strength and help.
May we know deep stillness in the presence of God our refuge. Amen.
PRAYER FOCUS: COMPASSION FOR THE WORLD’S POOR