The King of Love

CrownThere are not many kings remaining in the world today.

There’s a king in the country of Jordan, one in Thailand, and now there is a king of Belgium and the Netherlands; there are queens too, but we’re only thinking of kings right now. The Kings of these countries may reign, but many, if not most, do not rule. In our time, kings or queens ruling countries are a rare breed. However, there is a king in our lives; a king who rules as well as reigns.

Christ the KingThe king we celebrate at this time of the year is the one who comes out of the clouds[1], the alpha and the omega—the first and the last—who will rule the world with compassion and justice, rid the world of evil, and make all things new. This king’s rule has been the hope of Christians for two millennia and will continue to be the Christian faith until Jesus does reign in the hearts of all people for all time. This hope is expressed in the mystery of faith—“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”[2]—said in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in churches around the world. This hope for the rule of God was expressed in the Book of Daniel, specifically when in Daniel’s vision of the Divine he sees “…one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven.”[3]

Revelation of JohnBoth of my Scriptural citations are a part biblical apocalyptic literature, which refer to the End Times. These and similar Scriptures have been used over the centuries to alarm us against that day, but they are words of joy. “Look,” John of Patmos joyfully writes, “He is coming with the clouds…” Daniel promises, “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.” In light of that joy we pray, “Mercifully grant that the peoples of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his most gracious rule…”[4] Our prayer is a prayer for peace, a prayer for human unity, and a prayer that Jesus will rule in our hearts even now before the apocalypse.

Written in times of great trial, both Daniel and Revelation promise hope toDaniel in the Lions' Dean people who lived in fear of the future. The Book of Daniel in the Hebrew Scriptures, probably written during the Maccabean Revolt in the second century before Christ, tells the story of a brave Israelite lawyer who stands firm against tyranny. The book is in two parts—the Daniel narrative and Daniel’s visions. The text quoted is from the latter part of the book. The visions of Daniel promise salvation, t hope that God will act, and the people downtrodden by brutal force to worship false gods and to live in exile, will be rescued. Similarly, The Revelation of John promises that Jesus, the Son of the living God, will return to bring together in joy the persecuted Christians being forced to acknowledge the Roman emperor to be the “son of a god” or “the son of God.” The Christians living in Asia Minor under the rule of the depot Domitian could not in faith do that?

At times, we think we are living in end times. The news these past several weeks has been horrific. A Russian airplane blown out of the sky ends the lives of over two hundred passengers returning from a holiday in the Sinai Desert. Terrorists killed 130 people Paris. Europe is on alert and uneasy. The city of Brussels has been closed down in fear of terrorists attacking somewhere or something. Syria and Iraq are aflame with aerial bombs, forces fighting on the ground, and people displaced by the millions. Refugees are fleeing the biblical lands of the Middle East and dying in the hundreds as they drown in the Aegean Sea.

As fear mounts, warnings increase that terror could return to our country. However, recall Jesus’ words, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come.”[5] Additionally, recall Jesus told his followers many times not to fear—he often said, “do not be afraid.” As he greeted his friends, he said to them, “shalom”—peace. Instead of “hello” in our greetings, we should say to each other “peace.” You may be surprised how that word can calm fears. If Jesus told his followers and friends two thousand years ago to set aside their fears and be at peace in the presence of Jesus, we also can today. I suppose someone could write end times tales for us today.

In this atmosphere of fear, someone is likely to capitalize on it and write a series of books about the end times, about the good people being saved and the sinners being condemned. The story would remind us that the end is near, that Jesus is coming to punish sinners. Sinners cast into a lake of fire or an endless abyss receive their just rewards. The writer could point to the refugees as the source of evil and terror and find a biblical verse predicting the event, and we can all be afraid.

Such a modern tale is not needed. We already know the story. In the ancient stories of the Scriptures we know the promise made, we know the victory won for the world, and it is joyous. Recall Scripture again, Jesus said, “…God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”[6] The operative words are “Love” and “World.” God loves the world; he will not destroy it. The promise is life, not death. If there is world destruction, it will be at the hands self-serving tyrants, thoughtless politicians, and ranting authoritarians, not God.

We celebrate Jesus as the king of all that God has created; he is the king of the universe who through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne of heaven has brought saving and amazing grace to the world. He is the king of love. In our celebration let us remember that Jesus is the king of our hearts; that is, his words, his acts of healing love, rule our hearts. Not ruled by fear of terror, fear of others who may be different than we are, Christians live in trust of the resurrected life. There is no living in fear, even of the end times. God has come to us in Christ Jesus, and God has come in love; in love with the world.


 

 

[1] Revelation 1.7a, New Revised Standard Version, Holy Bible.

[2] Eucharistic Prayer A, the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

[3] Daniel 7:14, New Revised Standard Version, Holy Bible.

[4] Collect, Proper 29, the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

[5] Mark 13:7, New Revised Standard Version, Holy Bible.

[6] John 3:16, New Revised Standard Version, Holy Bible.

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