Updated: Dec 6, 2020
By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
Welcome to the new Covenant Presbyterian Church of Madison blog! Each week throughout Advent (and maybe beyond) we’ll be posting a brief reflection written by me (Pastor Jeff). I’ll be looking at the scripture, topic, or theme from the past Sunday’s service and writing my own little reflection on what it means to me. What am I going to write after a Sunday I preach? Your guess is as good as mine! These posts are not going to have the polish of a sermon; rather, they're reflections written as a way to continue the conversation from worship. I’m glad you’re joining me on this fun journey!
The Advent series for this year reflects on the nature of Jesus. Each week in worship we’ll look at a different word to describe Jesus as we prepare for his coming. This week Charlie talked about Christ as King.
I have a real love/hate relationship with the phrase “Christ the King." I feel that it is too easy to think of in simplistic terms. Christ the King can sometimes feel like "bumper sticker Christianity," the kind of Christianity that is satisfied with easy phrases and easy answers--like wearing a WWJD bracelet without actually ever thinking about what J would D. If Christ is king, then following Christ is a platitude. Do what he says, obey his orders, get into heaven. Easy-peasy.
So, I don’t like it. I don’t like simple with my Christianity. I like neither easy, nor peasy.
Christianity is messy, complicated, and hard. The Christianity that I like would have to be a really big bumper sticker--more of a coat of paint, really.
But when you scratch the surface, “Christ the King" becomes an absurd proposition. How do we square the circle of calling a man who was murdered by the state a king? Don’t kings usually do the state-sanctioned murder? Which is why this verse from Matthew 2:2 feels so satisfying: “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
When you see it that way, then it is less about what our King demands of us, and more about what we have to offer our king. The best kings lead not by coercion, but by example. The best kings inspire their followers to greatness. The best kings are the ones who are remembered first as great people, then as great kings.
The wise men came to Jesus to pay him homage, not because he had ordered them to, but because they know what he means. Inspired by these wise men, we can come to Jesus and pay him homage. We do this not because we are ordered to do so, but because we are compelled to do so. Because as Christians, we see the fruit of the kingdom of God. We see the upside-down kingdom promised under Christ’s reign. We see the last becoming first; we see people laying down their swords; we see the hungry fed; we see the mourners blessed; we see a baby born to squalor sent to reign over all the earth.
The Christmas hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter” speaks deeply to my heart. When I think of Christ as King, and the homage that we bring, I think of the closing stanza:
What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a wise man, I would do my part; Yet what can I give Him? Give Him my heart.
Happy Advent everyone! I’ll see you in this space next week.
In fervent Advent hope,