In the Christian year we are about to celebrate the closing of our annual cycle. We do this each year, most of us, by reflecting on what it means to have Jesus Christ of Nazareth as our King. We have come through a whole year since last time we reflected on this and each year we end with a vision of glory regardless of the difficulties and challenges we face in the world we live in.
Those of us who follow a set of readings in rotation find ourselves reading disturbing passages about multi-winged creatures and tens of thousands praising a fiery God on a fiery throne. We call these passages apocalyptic scripture, stories that describe the truth about God and God’s reign.
It might be useful to take the word “apocalyptic” apart for those who haven’t studied the ancient languages. I found it intriguing to learn that apocalypse means literally, in Greek, “uncovering” the “precious hidden treasure.” In the Christian tradition we believe that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was and is the ultimate uncovering, or revelation, of the true nature of God.
So what does it mean when we think of Jesus of Nazareth as King? He says himself to Pontius Pilate “You say that I am a King...My kingdom is not of this world...” (Jn 18:36-37) Even Jesus’ disciples expected a military coup which would defeat the Roman Empire and restore freedom to people who had been oppressed under the strict and demanding rule of emperors.
In Jesus, as the anointed (Christ), God reveals the precious treasure that is the Nature of God: A King who does no harm to Creatures or Creation, but rather allows it to unfold in the way it was designed. A Ruler who expects love and adoration, but longs for purity of love and therefore we have to choose to love and adore. A Sovereign who serves Creation as companion, coach, cheerleader and comforter. A Monarch whose throne stands on the smoldering hill-of-skulls and who stretches his arms to embrace the cosmos. An Emperor whose crimson robe of hemoglobin drips from the wounds inflicted by the sin of humanity. A Prince whose crown signifies the human lust for blame when things go so very badly. The Royal One who walks amongst us; rescues the lost, the last and the least and invites us into the work of the kingdom as his hands and feet, his head and heart in the world.
This is the King we celebrate and serve. This is the Ruler who has dominion over our souls if we say “yes.” This is the Prince who uncovers the precious treasure: the true Nature of God. In our confusing, troubled, dangerous and delightful world we will never find a place he hasn’t been.