O King of the Nations – An Advent Reflection for 22nd December

IMG_6232Over seven days, in these final days leading up to Christmas, we are thinking about how we understand who Jesus is and his saving work for us. Today we have glitter everywhere. Our visual aid leaves a trail. It is a crown and a crown needs a king.

This king is the ultimate monarch, Christ. He is depicted behind the altar in this church – dressed in royal robes, carrying the orb, the symbol of his sovereignty over the world. Christ the King shows who holds the ultimate authority. The antiphon for today is ‘O King of the Nations’.

O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay. Cf Isaiah 28:16, Ephesians 2:14)

We pray to the God of Justice for all who hold high office – Prime Ministers, the Queen and Presidents of other nations, those who sit in parliament and our local councils – all whose decisions affect the lives of others. St Paul tells us that we should pray for them that we may be well governed and we pray for them regularly here.

All human power is limited and transitory, however important and powerful someone may be or seem. One day their kingdom will be no more. Royal tombs, for all their grandeur, are all lifeless mausoleums with rotting corpses inside. The King of the Nations calls on us to raise our sights and build on the values of a kingdom that really does endure, that lasts for ever. As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer ‘your kingdom come, your will be done’, we are reminded of the values of justice and peace, honouring and flourishing for all people.

Today, on 22nd December, we hang a crown on our tree as a reminder that all authority owes allegiance to Christ above all else, and certainly not itself. We pray that we may live as signs and agents of Christ’s Kingdom.


O King of the Nations,

the one to whom all authority owes true allegiance,

be with all in high office.

Let your justice flow,

your peace reign,

your liberating Word unbind the chains of deceit and oppression.

Come to our salvation

Come, Lord Jesus.

Advent Antiphons from ‘Common Worship: Daily Prayer’ is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005.

 Prayers taken from Ian Black ‘Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days’ (2005, SPCK)

Text of an Advent Reflection, streamed online for Peterborough Parish Church, 22nd December 2020.

About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough and Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral in the Church of England Diocese of Peterborough. He served as Rural Dean of Peterborough for 5 years. Prior to moving to Peterborough, Ian was in Leeds for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and is a former head chorister at Shakespeare's Church - Holy Trinity. He studied in Canterbury, Lincoln Theological College and has a Master of Divinity degree from Nottingham University. He is married with two sons. Publications include three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His most recent book, 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus', was published by Sacristy Press in 2017. There is a hymn based on this 'Christ the Saviour'. He has been writing online since the mid 1990s. Ian is a keen photographer and these frequently appear in his posts and on social media.
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