Twenty-eight pages. I took a sick day yesterday to try to get over this cold that my wife so kindly handed down to me and after a four hour nap, I set out to read my sermon notes. Twenty-eight pages and nary a sentence dealing with what it means for us as 21st century Americans, 239 years removed from the Crown of England, to claim Jesus Christ as our King. In my post on Monday, I started down this road, wondering if we were capable of imagining the ramifications of a Collect which boldly claims Jesus as King of kings and asks God to unite all the peoples of the earth under his most gracious rule. After working my way through twenty-eight pages of scholarly writing about Christ the King Sunday, I’m more certain than ever that we can’t even begin to imagine what it means to claim Jesus as King.
I am certainly not an expert on kingship, but it seems to me that the key to understanding what it means to claim Christ as King is the realization that to say that Jesus is King means that nobody and nothing else can be. Of course, there are plenty of things competing for kingship in our lives. The most timely example I can think of is anxiety. As my friend and mentor Diana Butler Bass posted on Facebook a few days ago, “I have become convinced that a large percentage of Americans — Christians included — are addicted to anxiety.”
Anxiety has made its claim for kingship on our lives by attempting to make fear our number one motivator. Fear is invoked in the debate over Syrian refugee resettlement, in the conversation about so-called entitlement programs, and in the struggle for marriage equality; just to name a few examples. Everywhere we turn, our anxiety is being used as motivation to buy, to vote, and in some cases, even to hate.
If Jesus is our King, then anxiety cannot be. If Jesus is our King, then we must live under the rules of his kingdom and that means we have to love our neighbors and our enemies. If Jesus is our King, then we must learn to obey him when he enters the depths of our anxiety and says, “Have no fear.” If Jesus is our King, then we must be like the followers he describes in Sunday’s Gospel lesson – followers that don’t stand up and fight out of fear, but followers who reach out in care and compassion for the least, the lost, and yes, even those who would do us harm – because that’s what the Kingdom of God looks like.