If I were the King of the Forest…..dreams the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. He imagines animals and trees bowing before him as he takes his royal throne. If you have seen the movie you will remember the scene – as he becomes the very opposite of his frightened and shy self in his imagined role.
As children I am sure many of us imagined being a kind or a queen – I wonder what we thought we would do. I suspect there were crowns involved, and perhaps cloaks, or long flowing robes. Perhaps we had friends or siblings who were courtiers – or perhaps we were the courtiers to older siblings. An old chair might have been a throne. Were there swords and imaginery horses?
What did these kings and queens do all day? Did they wage battles, or drink tea. Did they make themselves beautiful or visit with royal friends? My guess is that most of our games did not involve much actual ruling – so I wonder now what we would actually do if we were king or queen of the world.
It is actually not a childish or facetious question. Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the king and by asking a really big question about what it means to be the King of the World we are asking about the nature of authority – what it means to be in charge of things. What is it that the one who really is in charge does, and does not do – what do you do when you really and truly and do anything – that is what a King really does and what we, therefore, really should be doing.
So if you really were in charge of the world, what would you be doing. Don’t go too small now. The world, remember.
We are, of course, about to enter into debate about authority in US politics. The issue of immigration will get mangled in the process but the question is who is allowed to decide what the rules are – you will all have opinions about where the lines are drawn –but you are not being offered executive power in the United States you are being offered King of the World so you are going to have to move on from all of those arguments and think a little bigger……….
You see I wonder, whether, when we are king of the world, even if we start out somewhere else we end up in this same sort of place where Jesus is in the Gospel,
“for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me”. This places the right use of authority firmly in the arena of compassionate care for the other. Jesus has the ability to do anything and yet his criteria is simple – how much compassion have you shown to another?
Even the cowardly lion had this right in his song,
“Though my tail would lash, I would show compash, For every underling!”
So, on the Feast of Christ the King two images are pulled together. Christ reigning in majesty and compassion for the least of these. This should, to say the least, begin to unravel a few threads in our heads. This Kingdom of which we are part, the Kingdom of Heaven, has such an odd set of rules and such an odd way of being.