Friday, November 20, 2015

Kingdom of mercy: Speaking to the Soul, November 30, 2015

It’s in our national DNA to distrust kings. Yet here we are, preparing to celebrate “Christ the King” Sunday.

Actually, it goes deeper than that. It’s in our nature to distrust authority, to resist anything or any organization or any person who violates our beloved sense of autonomy and independence. We don’t like kings. Yet, once again, here we are, preparing to celebrate “Christ the King” Sunday.

With all the fear and rejection of others different than us being promoted right now, it’s natural that we would want to protect ourselves, seal ourselves off, fortify our position, launch a strike against all those who come begging us for help. We’ve got problems of our own, after all.

Yet if we take seriously the claiming of the banner of Christ as our own, we haughty individualists soon come to realize one thing very quickly: we can’t claim Christ without Christ claiming us.  We can’t be Christians and seal ourselves off from others. Having a personal relationship with Jesus as our own personal savior means nothing if we do not allow that same Savior to reign in our hearts, in our actions, in our lives. Faith saves us, yes, but faith has to animate and illuminate us, too. Faith is the air that miracles breathe.

This King isn’t interested in taxing us to build palaces or temples or even stadiums. This King isn’t interested in leading avenging armies. This King asks us to throw open the doors of our hearts, and invite others in-- the poor, the desperate, the orphan, the cast-off, the rejected. We are asked to look deep into the faces of those in the margins, and really see what’s reflected there. Yes, those are real precious lives who are asking for welcome, compassion, and mercy. Look closer. If we look with the eyes of our hearts, we might see reflected our own faces, hoping for welcome, compassion, and mercy. Look closer still. The eyes of our hearts might see the face of Christ, hoping for welcome, who calls us to live in a kingdom of compassion and mercy.

This King is not a King of this world, but a Prince of Peace. If Christ can welcome us and love us exactly as we are, he doesn’t ask us to stay there. Christ as our King still calls us forward to be the very best versions of ourselves, our sharp edges rubbed smooth in the tumble of a community of saints and witnesses, dedicated to the one who comes humbly asking to reign in our hearts.

Come, Lord Jesus. Let us welcome You to reign over us.

(This was first posted at Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul for November 20, 2015.)

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