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Christian Simchat Torah?

Yesterday (today still in some places) was the Feast of Christ the King. Even with a future king in recent positive news, and a current king in recent negative news – we don’t really think much in terms of kings and kingdoms. So the politically correct title often becomes, “The Reign of Christ” – but, let’s be honest, neither kingdoms nor reigns are the ways we think much. “Culture” is one way in to the concept – “The Culture of Christ Sunday”.

Another is recognising the Jewish tradition of ending the lectionary, the cycle of readings on the feast of Simchat Torah, when the last section of Deuteronomy is read, and the first section of Genesis is begun once more. And they dance with the Torah scrolls. Sometimes dancing for hours. Simchat Torah was seven weeks ago – and is always about then.

Were you dancing with the scriptures as we concluded our reading of the Gospel of Luke, of our lectionary year? At least on the inside?

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11 thoughts on “Christian Simchat Torah?”

  1. But Bosco, isn’t that just the point? Jesus is the UNEXPECTED KING: no power, no earthly kingdom, no visible means of support. YET he is recognized by the “good Thief” on the cross as the true KING. the gospel reading of today … the Solemnity of CHRIST THE KING.. we read a passage from the passion….. how can we keep from dancing??!!
    “Jesus, remember me when you come in to your kingdom”

    1. Thanks, Maria – I’m struggling to understand what the “But” is in reference to? The majority of current kings (and queens) have “no power” – so there is no contrast there, no real “but”.

      Matt, yes being a Medievalist is an appropriate context for exploring this. Unfortunately (?) most people aren’t. As to “culture”, you can bring Maria’s “But” to your Medieval concept of kingship. I am suggesting that we can do something similarly in our contemporary context by exploring our culture and then seeing how Christ’s culture (as Maria points out, focused on a quite different throne – to go back to the king metaphor) might look. How might the culture of the cross look in a world of with a culture of violence? Or to work from the second reading: how might the culture of Christ look in a world where the culture is that image is mostly merely façade?

  2. I’m a medievalist – or at least a would-be medievalist 🙂 . I’m far more used to thinking in terms of kings (and what, exactly, having a king meant to a people in medieval Europe) than I am to thinking in terms of “the culture of Christ.” What, exactly, do you intend when you use that terminology?

  3. Loved the videos.

    What a pity there’s not more people dancing on the outside with the Joy of our Lord. The Christian church has something to learn from this Jewish tradition.

    Do you think an increase in “Joy” would be one of the symptoms of that deeper contemplative faith you’ve been talking about? C.S. Lewis focused on the fruit of Joy in his testimony.

    1. Yes, Adulcia, I think we have lost a lot through our loss of connection with our Jewish roots. As for joy – I think you are right, if you mean in the deep sense, not the façade frothiness that is regularly mistaken and traded for it – if you see what I mean. (again expressed badly?)

  4. Hello Bosco

    I have problems with Christian language and images and it doesn’t come at all easily to me to think or talk of kingdoms and thrones and reigns and stuff. So I don’t, and in church it’s quite difficult to talk or pray without doing so. My fellow pew dwellers all thought I was bonkers recently when I said “God’s State” instead of Kingdom of God, so if anybody can come up with better expressions I’m all ears. Thanks!

    1. Mary, I know of communities that use “kindom” for Christ’s concept of “kingdom”. And yes, Thomas, we cannot avoid talking about the concept as Christians as it is such a central metaphor in all we hear from the mouth of Jesus.

  5. we don’t really think much in terms of kings and kingdoms

    Yesterday in my church here in Pennsylvania the sermon began: “It’s Christ the King Sunday. I’ve never actually lived under a king or queen, only under presidents and governors and so on, so I don’t actually know, but I assume that ordinary kings or queens don’t make much of a difference to the everyday lives of their people.”

    (As a Brit, I felt it my duty to find him afterwards and tell him that his supposition was correct.)

    So I suppose some people have no mental category for kingship. I wonder whether it’s better for them to avoid the concept or to seek to gain a deeper understanding of it. I’ve heard it said that because some people grew up without fathers, or had abusive fathers, that talk of the fathership of God was generally unhelpful, and I think there may be an analogy drawn between the problems with these two ideas.

    Similarly, I am sorry to record that in another country I once heard a very similar opening to a sermon on Trinity Sunday: “Today is Trinity Sunday; I don’t really understand the Trinity, and I always end up confusing the essence and confounding the persons, or is it the other way around?”… followed by a sermon on something completely unrelated. I know most people don’t have a mental category for perichoresis, but for heaven’s sake, the answer isn’t to avoid talking about it.

    This comment is over-rambly.

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