Written by Josh Taylor
In 2016, I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to Iona, Scotland, and spend a week living in community in the abbey and communing with fellow pilgrims through our common work and daily worship. One of the days was spent on a pilgrimage around the island. We spent the day hiking, stopping along the way for prayer, meditation and song. Perhaps, the most meaningful stop on the journey was at the lone crossroads of the island- the only place where two roads meet on the island.
At this place, our guide shared a story of crossroads being a place in communities where life happens. It is a place of decisions, of gossip, of meetings, of wrong turns, of journeys, and of hope for the future. Markets exist at crossroads. Churches are built at crossroads. People find one another at the crossroads. As we pondered together what it meant that God had led us to this crossroad in our own journey, we were reminded that it was at the center of a cross that Christ also shared the journey with us.
Sylvia Dunstan captures beautifully in the words of her poem “Christus Paradox,” the reality that it is in a place of crossing that Christ shares the challenge of life with us. He is at the same time both a “lamb and a shepherd,” “a prince and slave”… an “everlasting instant.” Through her words, Dunstan reminds us of a central tenet of our faith: that Christ is both fully human and fully divine.
Situated at the end of our liturgical calendar, Christ the King Sunday (or Reign of Christ Sunday) is the celebration of this intersection. Its position in the liturgical calendar is significant. We begin the liturgical year with the first Sunday of Advent celebrating the incarnation of the living God and we end it celebrating the reign of the living God - liturgically echoing the words of Revelation 22, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
What a word of assurance! And what a great joy to celebrate in worship the promise of our God!
Mark’s Gospel (which is the gospel appointed for Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary that concludes on Christ the King) follows a similar trajectory. Chapter one begins with the prophet, John the Baptist, foretelling the coming of Christ. Fast-forward to chapter thirteen, the section biblical scholars call the “little apocalypse,” Jesus tells us the ending: “Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven” (Mark 13:26-27).
Christ will gather us to be with him and in turn we offer our adoration and praise through our worship together.
Whether you find yourself at a personal crossroad or not, as people of faith, we are confident that Christ is there sharing the journey alongside our community of faith and each of us. I look forward to sharing with you in worship together this Christ the King Sunday and in all the days to come.
Joshua Taylor has served as the Director of Worship and Music at First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas since 2011. He previously served as the Director of Music at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Denton, Texas and the Director of Choirs at Navo Middle School in Denton ISD. Josh holds a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Kansas State University, a Bachelor’s of Music Education from the University of North Texas, and a Certificate in Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is a candidate in the Doctor of Pastoral Music program at Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University.