The King Among Us
Story from Gloucestershire. Queen taking shelter in a snowstorm. Remarkable about that story is that I am telling it at all. That it made news. Dog bites man/man bites dog.
The King who is among us. “I am among you as one who serves” (Coventry Cathedral: Chapel of Christ the Servant. Clear glass, looking out onto the city and its life and work.
Early images - Christ the wise teacher, Christ the Good Shepherd
Christ the ruler of heaven - icons - Catholic image - cross, crown of thorns, sacred heart.
Servant king - a contradiction in terms. Not easy to hold the two together in our minds, even when thinking of Jesus. Two opposite poles. Extremes. Tends to make us uncomfortable. Tends to be controversial. Statue from Ireland - depicts the kingship of Christ, desolation, loss etc. Very controversial.
The King who is among us. So that we cannot see who he is. Cannot pick him out. He could be anywhere. He could be anyone. So we have to treat everyone with the same respect that we would give to the king. Very challenging.
Goes against our ideas of what kingship and royalty are all about.
Expect a distance. Want a distance. Cannot quite imagine them sitting on the bus or putting out the dustbin or pulling the shopping in a trolley. This is the head of state we are talking about. Want her to be a human being, stay connected, but we are constantly putting her on a pedestal. This is what people do with their leaders. (Ministers). As an individual, know she is flesh and blood like the rest of us. Expect her to acknowledge that. But as representative person, we expect her to become a repository for our aspirations, or not. Whether you are a monarchist or not, we tend to expect the head of state to represent the values we hold dear, or which we aspire to, as a nation.
Challenging in another way, too. Because we struggle to give everyone respect. To treat everyone with the same respect and attention that we would give to one special person. Everyone? Few people do that. I don’t.
Expect the Queen to be above the hurly burly of ordinary life, politics.
Still expect her to feel, to show that she feels and to relate to the feelings of her subjects. When she remained hidden, private, withdrawn at Balmoral, heavily criticised. Too remote. Disconnected.
But God the Son? The one to whom I have given my allegiance - after a fashion. I suppose I have given it to God rather than to the Son, in one sense. I mean, yes, I have acknowledged and studied and admired and followed the Son all my adult life. But I have never really brought him into focus as brother and friend. Partly because I have avoided the superman Christ. And partly because I have avoided the Jesus-olatry that I have seen others fall into. And partly because Jesus himself points to the Father. In that sense, if we are serving the Father, Jesus does not mind what we think about him. Or so I believe.