WE DON’T LIKE KINGS!
Americans have always had trouble with the idea of kings, ever since we revolted against one (King George III) in 1776. We picture kings as greedy, selfish despots, concerned only for their own power and glory, with little regard for the subjects over whom they rule. Our U.S. government was set us to guard against that kind of unchecked power.
Even the Episcopal Church in the U.S. was designed to avoid the perception of bishops as “princes” with the trappings of royalty. Consequently, our American bishops have very little actual power to act or change our church, but carry tremendous responsibility. It’s an impossible position to hold, in my view.
When we come to the last Sunday of our church year, however, we still celebrate Jesus Christ as a kind of king. We love to sing the coronation hymns: “Crown him with many crowns,” “All hail the power of Jesus’ name.” But I’m not at all sure we really want a king to reign in our lives. We Americans covet our independence and self-determination, so the image of a king sitting on high rankles. Let the Brits have their monarch and palaces and royal falderal. We’ll stick with leaders we can elect, and throw out when we get tired of them.
And yet, we’re not doing that well by ourselves down here on earth. We fight over power and turf, even while our neighbors go hungry, or wander homeless like “a man without a country.” We kill each other with our bombs and guns.
Yet we pray regularly, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.” I believe we’ll have to reconcile this dichotomy if we are ever truly to accept God’s right to rule and direct our lives. We have a hard time with kingship, because it’s difficult to surrender to a power greater than our own.(Ask someone in A.A. or another 12-step program how hard it is!) But that’s what the Christian journey is all about. JBM