We Americans aren’t on board with the whole king-idea.
If you watch Game of Thrones, you might think of royalty as involving power and wealth, intrigue and property, dynasties and warfare.
If you’re watching the current Netflix show, The Crown, about the British Queen Elizabeth coming to her throne, then you might think of royalty as involving power and wealth, intrigue and power, dynasties and warfare – and Winston Churchill.
If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, the real King of Glory, then . . . . how do you think of kingship? How do you think of royalty?
Today, Christ the King Sunday, the final Sunday of the Church year, it’s incumbent upon us to ponder that question. Who is the King of Glory?
He was not born in the lying-in room of the local palace. He was born into an impoverished family, his earthly parents not married when he was conceived.
He was not a member of the political elite. He was born into an oppressed community, a culture far down on the Roman scale of prestige and authority.
He was not secure by birth or status or privilege. With his parents, he was a refugee in Egypt, fleeing persecution and likely murder before he could even walk or talk.
He did not speak on behalf of the “haves,” the affluent, the powerful. In his very first sermon, recounted in Luke 4, he proclaimed that “The Spirit of the Lord [was] upon him, [and that he had been anointed] to bring good news to the poor . . . to proclaim release to the captive and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, [and] to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
He did not teach how to win friends and influence people, how to make a million, how to create financial wealth for your descendants. He taught that those who are blessed, those whose lives are most open to God, are those who are poor, those who are hungry, those who weep.
He did not ridicule or turn aside from those who are ill or injured or disabled, mentally or physically. He did not fear them, or wring his hands helplessly before walking away from them. He walked straight toward them, and stopped to lift them up and to heal them.
He did not denigrate “the Other.” He made them heroes of his encounters and his stories: the Syro-Phonecian Woman, and the Good Samaritan.
He did not belittle or ignore women, send them to the kitchen or bar them from roles of authority. He lifted them up, supported them, and commissioned them to preach the good news of his kingdom: the Woman at the Well, and Mary Magdalene.
He did not despair of the rituals and rules and teachings of the community in which he had been formed. But he did condemn those who were its hypocritical leaders, and said that he had come to fulfill the law, a fulfillment in which compassion and forgiveness and hope are paramount.
He did not wield weapons or other forms of power to elude the death which came to him, as it does it all human beings. He accepted humiliation, torture, and the end of life with humility and with a sense of purpose.
He did not follow up on his astonishing resurrection with a claim to secular power, with an amalgamation of political and military forces, with a demand for a crown. After his resurrection, he went right back to the people he had loved: that anonymous couple on the road to Emmaus, that motley crew of disciples back in their fishing boat.
This is who the King of Glory is: He aligns himself, persistently and consistently, with the poor, the oppressed, the refugee, the imprisoned, the hungry, the grieving, the broken and heartbroken, the disenfranchised, the overlooked.
This is who the King of Glory is: a king of abundant love, of extravagant generosity, a king who molds sinners into saints.
Regardless of who and where you are this morning – whether you are looking forward to a tv commercial-perfect holiday gathering, or to one in which the family has long since crumbled, or to dinner alone; whether you are content with your lot in life or feeling crushed by its demands; whether you are looking forward to good health and energy, or to a renewed round of doctors and hospitals – regardless of who and where you are, Jesus Christ is your king. Loving you, challenging you, changing you.
And about this king of ours, Martin Luther –, as I learned in confirmation class with the kids last week — Martin Luther said, “Where he is, there I shall be also.”
On this Christ the King Sunday, and in the days and weeks ahead, will you be where your king is? Will you open yourself to his love, accept his challenges, allow him to change you?
In the name of Christ the King,