A happy Christ the King (weekend) Sunday to you all. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is not an old feast, as it was added to the calendar in 1925, but it’s still a venerable one, and we are blessed enough to have it as our feast of title – Christ Himself is our patron.
I saw many, many political signs over the last few months, Trump and Clinton and the menagerie of local politicians running for this office or that one. A few quickly became favorites: the now classic Giant Meteor of Death 2016. Keyboard Cat for President. There was one with a picture of Queen Elizabeth; if these are our choices, the sign seemed to say, perhaps we’re better off with corgis and crown jewels.
But we’re a people who rather forcibly shrugged off a king a while back, and I can’t see us ever wishing to be ruled ever again. Earthly kings and queens rarely comport themselves as Queen Elizabeth has, and it seems that much of the world has simply outgrown the monarchy, at least as a system of government.
And so it can be difficult for some, myself included, to even know what calling Jesus “King” looks and feels like. If Jesus is King and He’s running this divine Kingdom we hear about all the time, how come the world looks and feels the way it does? If the Kingdom of God is a peaceable kingdom, then what gives?
As my friend Fr. George Roberts said, “Jesus made peace…it may come as news to us living in a world that seems far from peaceful. But the reality of Jesus is that His sacrificial life and love did usher in reconciliation and peace with God. It is finished, Jesus said from the Cross. The final act of redemption had been accomplished which is reinforced and final in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
“So, we understandably ask, “Why is the world not united yet? Why are we still such a mess?” The answers to those questions may seem complex but the simple answer may be that we have not chosen, yet, to live into Jesus’ promise. We don’t (and cannot) actually build the kingdom of God, though I have used those words myself many times. Jesus has already built the kingdom of God among us, in us, but we must now choose to live into it. We will always live in the footsteps of Jesus imperfectly but we must strive to follow where He would lead. We must live the life that Jesus called us to, grow the kingdom that is not of this world but is meant to be, at least in part, in this world. Jesus did not ask us to be Him but to follow Him. He has reconciled us to God; now we must, by following Jesus, be reconciled to each other.”
I’ve seen this in action. On Thursday night we had the Fill Fr. Matt’s Truck for Thanksgiving event, and we filled three trucks and an ambulance with food and personal items for those in need, about twice the haul from last year’s event. That in and of itself is pretty awesome, but so was the scene in the Farnsworth House: loads of people, people from different walks of life, different groups in town, Clinton voters and Trump voters, dogs and cats living together; it looked for all the world to me like the Kingdom of God hanging out on Farnsworth Avenue.
Jesus reconciled humanity with God. Jesus brought, as St. Athanasius told us, the manhood to the Godhead, and so the Kingdom is ours now, too, ours to do with as we please. If that’s a scary thought, good, because it’s a scary proposition, but giving us the Kingdom shows us how much God loves us, how much He is willing to risk to be with us.
We live, as Christians, in the Kingdom of God, a kingdom established by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ, and He has made sure that each and every one of us has a place in His Kingdom. Because we can be sure of that, we can make decisions based on our citizenship, decisions that put others first, decisions that allow us to be servants instead of masters. The other day, my friend Fr. Rob told a group that he wants a Tesla, wants it so bad he would rub his face on the fender, but that he’ll never have one, because he’s made a choice, a choice to live in the peaceable kingdom, where others matter more than him. What does the Kingdom of God look like from where you are sitting?