I confess to not quite getting the image of Christ as king. Perhaps it’s because royalty in my lifetime have been primarily figureheads and, at times, models of bad behavior. The one king I feel an attraction towards, however, is Arthur. Camelot, as portrayed in legend and song, is a kingdom characterized by peace and honor. So, as the feast of Christ the King approaches, I am giving second thought to this image.
In his book, Learning to Pray, Wayne Muller offers a word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase reflection on the Lord’s Prayer. Writing about the line, “thy kingdom come”, he notes the deep longing of the human heart. We long for the peace and honor that are part of Arthurian legend, to be sure, but also much more. Our hearts yearn for belonging, for comfort, for hope and faith and love. “Again and again, here and in a thousand places every day, families and communities gather to pray for the coming of the kingdom, for the peace that will heal what has been broken, for the justice that will make right what we have made so terribly wrong” (Muller, page 53). This I get!
Perhaps it’s just coincidence, but I seem to have been buffeted this week by messages to be attentive. Everything from mid-night dreams to casual reading reiterated this theme. Such a message certainly jibes with the Gospel passages that mark the liturgical cycle at this time of year. Jesus’ strong warnings about staying alert and attentive sound dire and almost threatening. While pronounced two millennia ago, they contain some pretty contemporary reminders. The holidays are upon us and, with them, the exhausting pace of shopping, cooking, baking, visiting, party-going, and other cultural expectations that take a huge toll on our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It’s a good time to stay awake.
Because of its mysterious nature, Jesus used parables to paint a picture of the kingdom of heaven. What intrigues me is how it is already forming in small and incremental ways. It’s not diadems and palaces that characterize this kingdom, but mustard seeds and grains of yeast. Jesus’ admonitions about staying awake thus call us to be mindful of the little “God moments” enfolded into each day. No matter how stressed or lonely or tired we may be, a little attentiveness can lighten our loads. “The kingdom has come,” Muller writes. “Let it become the altar of your heart’s attention, and it shall be the star that will guide your way.”
During your Christ the King feast celebrations, invite your family or class to describe signs of God’s Kingdom that is now among us. How is God’s love made manifest in day-to-day events, people, and circumstances?
Download my reflection on the The Kingdom of Heaven and use it to expand your awareness of God’s presence in and among us.