Sunday, 3 November 2013

"Christ The King" - So What?

Very pretty, but so what?
"My name is BlackPhi, and I am a pedant".

Sorry, but I am: I care (too much, probably) about word meanings and accuracy. 'Christ the King' is like 'Cobbler the Shoemaker' or 'Butcher the Purveyor of Meat', or even 'Pope the Catholic'.

'Christ' is a literal Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew 'Messiah' - both mean 'anointed one', ie 'king'. Yes, there is more to being the Christ/Messiah than just being an ordinary king, but not less. That is where the concept starts.

The trigger for this little rant is that in three Sundays time (some) Anglican churches celebrate the feast of 'Christ the King' and I'm supposed to be giving a talk on the subject. It doesn't help that when I look on Google/Bing images for 'Christ the King', I find pages of bland images showing a North European 'Jesus' looking highly pious ... and generally pretty pointless.

It also doesn't help that I'm of a generation that isn't terribly impressed by titles and the toadying and self-importance that goes with them. Kings, queens, presidents, CEOs, unrestrained Prime Ministers ... so what? Corruption, abuse and injustice seem to me to be the inevitable companions of such power structures. The histories of major church organisations back that up all too well. Here's an alternative picture (from an album cover):

The point of remembering that Jesus is 'King of Kings' and 'Lord of Lords' is that it tells us that he has the power to make a difference. He was the one through whom the whole world was made, so when it comes to making a difference to the mess it's in - to remaking it, in part now, more extensively in due course - he knows what he is about.

When Jesus was on the cross between two other convicts, one of them wanted Jesus to use his power as Messiah/King to free them all from their suffering. The other convict accepts the situation and just asks Jesus to remember him. As it turns out, the suffering of both is cut short (crucifixion commonly took days), and the second convict is promised that Jesus will go with him: taking him through the crucifixion to paradise.

It's an odd story when you think about it, but my take is that sometimes (not always: healings do happen) Jesus, rather than keeping us from pain and suffering, walks through it with us, shortening it to what we can bear, and making it transformative: taking what is inherently evil and purposeless and transforming it to an agent of good change and redemption.

Because Jesus is the King: he can do that.