November 24, 2019: Jesus the Chief Elder and Christ the King

Jesus statue

Reign of Christ Sunday

I suspect that I am not the only Moravian pastor who has trouble knowing where to go in preaching on Christ the King Sunday.

After all, we celebrated the Festival of Christ the Chief Elder only two weeks ago, and many of the same themes are emphasized on both occasions. Jesus is the chief elder of our community of faith. Christ is the head of the church. Jesus Christ is the bishop of our souls. Christ is the Lord of all. What’s the difference, and how do we draw a line of distinction?

We don’t.

Although Jesus Christ is indivisible, at some moments we emphasize his humanity and at others times his divinity. Perhaps that’s a good way to understand these two end-of-the-church-year festivals. Jesus as Chief Elder governs and guides our lives on earth, including our relationships within the church. Christ the King is Cosmic Lord, who sanctifies us as we are drawn into the Reign of Christ (also known as the Kingdom of God).

The dying thief on the cross prayed, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” The one who is our chief elder and our sovereign supports and sustains us at all times and in every place, in all conditions and circumstances of life. In him we find health and wholeness, liberation and new life, grace and peace.

Blessings abound where’er he reigns,

the prisoners leap to lose their chains,

the weary find eternal rest,

and all who suffer want are blessed.

(Isaac Watts, Moravian Book of Worship, #404)


Otto Dreydoppel, chaplain, Moravian Hall Square
Nazareth, Pennsylvania