In a society with a democratic form of government, the idea of a king or queen is a bit difficult to fathom. Even so, lifestyles, especially the weddings of monarchs seem to capture our attention. It seems like yesterday that Charles, a young Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer had a fairy tale wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral, officiated by the then, Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie. Next year, Prince William, Charles and Di’s son, will marry the stunning Kate Middleton. Royal weddings indeed capture the attention of the media, just turn on any TV or open any newspaper these days. However, monarchs these days, nor the events of their royal pomp and circumstance have any impact on the balance of power in the world. Usually power lies in such gatherings as Congressional sessions, G20 Summits, NATO gatherings, the European Union or the Security Council of the United Nations. The power wielders of the world are no longer monarchs. Power, or the ability to exert influence on others, is something found in the structures of groups and organizations, and no longer is it found in the hands of individuals; or is it?
Power is held by individuals, but it is usually not something we recognize as legitimate. For instance, today we hear a lot about the issue of bullying in our schools. This is a power relationship exercised through aggression and it is almost always directed toward a weaker individual. We know that this is wrong, because it is a type of behavior that seeks to bring one person into submission, unto another. There are other power structures found in the world today. Some structures exist with good intent. It is important to create boundaries and create accountabilities. Without limits, we sometimes have the ability to run amuck. Could you imagine a football game without referees, without rules, without TV commercials? There have been other structures created that squelch freedom and hold people in bondage. The intent of some of these structures was to perpetuate the benefits of the few at the expense of many. Feudal systems in the dark ages was such a human experiment in which a few wealthy landowners, ruled the existence of the poor and destitute.
In those days, it was not uncommon for monarchs to wield unjust power against their subjects. It is out of this type power structure, that modern day democracies emerged. Even so, human structures, no matter how well designed and developed, can still bear the marks of power structures that exert unbalanced power over one another. Jesus speaks a lot about that kind of power. When giving advice to the disciples as they argued over who would be the greatest, Jesus made it clear that Kings “Lord it over” their subjects. In other words, we exert power, which subverts those for whom we are called to actually lead, guide and support.
Today is the last feast of the church year; The Feast of Christ the King. When we think of Christ the King, we can recall images of Our Lord returning on the clouds wielding a sword of power. Maybe we can possibly imagine his return as King in another way? Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Anointed One, God Incarnate was and is the suffering servant. Jesus Christ came not to wield power against those he came to save, but to serve. At times Our Lord did exert power, but it was always centered on love. He subverted the powers of the time by overturning tables in the temple, by healing and teaching, by speaking against the traditions that held others in bondage, by dining and being with the outcasts of society. There was a power of love that turned all other powers upside down, and because of that, he paid the price through his own death. Love though overcame death and he was raised. Jesus remained true to his call, he did not resort to retribution and power. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” God’s power is a power centered on love.
God’s Kingdom is not about power wielded against others, but a power that gives freedom and release. In Isaiah, we hear the promises of the Day of the Lord in which righteousness (right relationships) and justice (the demise of power wielding structures) will be made new. The Kingdom of God will be fulfilled when God restores all relationships. Relationships will no longer be based on force and strength, but on love and service. The Kingdom of God will be fulfilled, when suffering, poverty, pain, and tears are no more. Christ the King, the suffering servant, will establish the kingdom of peace, justice and righteousness.
What is so wonderful about our Christian journey, is that we are able to witness glimpses of God’s Kingdom even now. We, through our ministries of service in the world, ministries to which each of us are called, can allow us to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world today. We can bring about Kingdom moments, by God’s grace through the power of love from the Holy Spirit. In the small gestures of love we give each day, we can be wielders of the power of God’s love in our lives. We can be vessels of love poured into us and through, and flows freely into the lives of others. We can be restorers of relationships, we can be justice agents for God’s kingdom by being the healers of the least, lost and lonely.
As the Church Year comes to a close, and in the next four weeks, as we enter the Advent season, we can wait with expectant hope of the arrival of the Christ child. Let us not forget that we also wait in hope of the coming again of Our Lord. It will be in that coming, when Christ the King returns in glory, when Christ establishes the kingdom of peace, justice and righteousness. This will be God’s Kingdom in which all things will be made new.