Who’s Really in Charge?
A red cardigan and a simple question, won’t you be my neighbor, make believe stories alongside messages that each person, each child has value and is loved- you know who I’m talking about right? Fred Rogers’ life story is getting a lot of press right now- a documentary came out recently and now a fictional account of his life starring Tom Hanks is coming out soon too. Mr. Roger’s legacy lives on on PBS through an educational cartoon for kid’s called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (which my children love.) But one day when my family sat down and turned on the TV, we found an old episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood we found that our children were just as enamored by Mr. Rogers kindness and gentleness as my husband and I were and as the children who watched it before us. Mr. Roger’s was also Reverend Rogers- a Presbyterian minister whose faith and believe that each person was a child of God directed his life. We continue to be inspired by this man who lived his faith.
That’s what we hope to do too, don’t we? Live with faith. But with Thanksgiving on the horizon and Christmas already appearing in bursts of holiday music and store displays; with all the detours and hurts of this world both personal and public not going anywhere, it is easy to get distracted and forget who’s really in charge. The statement Christ is King is a call back to our center in God. It is a reminder of both the vulnerability of this life and the priority of our faith in all things. Christ the King Sunday is supposed to help us remember who is really the ruler of us, this world and all of creation. Did you know Christ the King Sunday is a relatively new church holy day? It was initiated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 because he believed people needed to be reminded of the reign of Jesus Christ at that time. It is interesting to think about why he felt during that time people needed to be reminded that Christ is King, and how that same reminder is needed today.
What’s the meaning of a King?
But the language of king can be a bit of a struggle for us- in that kings and queens seem like something from hundreds of years ago and continue to bring up images of holding power over people out of selfishness and a lack of compassion. If we try to substitute other terms though, they don’t really work either- Christ can’t be president, or governor, or CEO- those all come with their own baggage. And when we are talking about Christ being our king, we can examine what kind of king we are really talking about. There is no throne, no gold crown, no palace or riches, no royal court. Instead we have a would-be carpenter who hangs on a cross for the crime of sedition to which most people would declare him innocent, except for those whose power he threatened. God in the flesh who came into this world not to dominate it but to save it and us by dying and rising again – all out of love. Today messages about power and truth have taken on a different meanings as our American political parties make assertions about one another and our president’s power is being examined under the microscope of an impeachment inquiry at this very moment. Worldwide questions of power and truth are being asked- from Brexit to the migrant crises everywhere. We start to ask ourselves who is really in charge of this life? And what kind of power do we want this world to have over us? If the powers of this world keep ruling without compassion for all- we will continue to need Jesus Christ.
Because if Christ is our king, then all those other things that fight to distract us can’t be our king. If Christ is our king, then nothing else can be in charge of us. Not busy schedules or holiday lists, not money, not our own shortcomings or failures, not politics or conflict, not sin, not even death and certainly by declaring Christ is King we are admitting, we aren’t our own rulers. If Christ is our king, then we can’t be. Those words, Christ is our king, removes us from the fight for the top. We aren’t the kings or queens of anything, not even of our own lives. Our identity, our motivations, our potential doesn’t come from anything or anyone else- our life, our souls and all that makes us who we are comes from God whose love for us is so big that Jesus was sent into this world for us. God’s son died for us, saving us- that makes him and only him our king.
This declaration of power can be scary for us though. It means we are giving up control, handing over our burdens, but also those things we want to hold on to- leaving ourselves in a vulnerable position when we hand it all over to God. But this declaration of true kingship also means we are free to believe in grace for ourselves and others, free to have hope and see the possibilities for goodness in this world. If we aren’t in charge and Christ is, than we can hand over our judgments, our fears and our worries and instead see possibilities for change for the good.
Telling the Truth
I read about a company in Texas recently that can build a 3D printed tiny home in 24 hours for less than $4000. Can you imagine the possibilities? The potential? I wanted to know more about this company- what motivated them to do this? The company owner described how he decided to start this business, after first exploring the option of going to seminary to become a pastor. He met with his bishop and shared his faith and his passion for helping people get affordable, green housing. His bishop wisely told him to pursue his passion and gifts in housing. Which led him to the idea of a 3D printer for houses. Using a specially formulated concrete and a huge robotic printer (and many trials and failures), his company has now created an actual home serving as a model for what they can do. Connecting with a non-profit focused on creating housing for all people, they have partnered to create 50 homes in an impoverished South American community. And he gives all the credit to God and his faith.
Next Sunday, we begin our walk toward Christmas in the season of Advent. We wait to hear again the story of Christ’s birth with eagerness and we wait also for the second coming of Christ and the fullness of God’s kingdom to come. And we aren’t in charge of any of it. We don’t control the birth of Jesus or when he will come again. We don’t control the darkness or the light. But what we do have is hope. If Christ is our king, then we are saying that the love of God is ours. When God is in charge of our lives, that means nothing else can be. So our story becomes one of trust and faith. Our lives become witnesses to the grace, goodness and power of Jesus Christ, who hung on the cross- didn’t save himself, but saved all of us.
Maybe we aren’t all going to make tv shows that influence generations or make 3D printers for houses- but the gifts of God that are in our hearts are ready to be used for good in this world. Whether it is buying gifts for those in need, serving at our Thanksgiving meal or helping a neighbor. We tell the truth about who is in charge of this world when our actions are filled with love and hope. We remind those around us of the power of God and not those in this world, when we help people without asking for anything in return. In this time, when it seems so many things are fighting for our attention, when so many things can distract us from living with faith, may we remember Christ is our one and only king. Thanks be to God.