Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christ the King?

I'm feeling a bit introspective, in a "What does this mean?" way, on this Christ the King Sunday.

What does it mean to affirm that Christ is our King? Well, if you listen to some of the fundamentalists I encounter online, their Messianic hope is in a Christ who looks an awful lot like Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger -- a Christ who hates all the same people that these folks hate, who's ready to kick butts and take names in some soon-to-arrive apocalyptic frenzy of divine whoop-ass.

Now, we mainliners can roll our eyes at bellicose revenge fantasies like this...but is our "Christ the King" any better? Sometimes I think we prefer our Christ to be His Highness of Antinomianism -- a disempowered figurehead monarch who periodically arrives on the scene to shake hands, kiss babies, entertain us with a little pomp and circumstance, comfort us with cherished traditions and pieties and assure us that God's in heaven and all's right with the world.

How does either image line up to the one we find in today's Gospel lesson -- a King whose reign stretches into the cosmos, into the life to come, but who willingly joins us in our weakness, defeat and pain? A King who asks us, not for blind allegiance, but for an openness to be touched and transformed by the Divine? A King who rules, not by intimidation, but by invitation? A King who doesn't promise to conquer the world by force, but who promises to conquer the world in us?

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