We have not long celebrated Christmas with all its particular festivities. Jesus came to us as a tiny baby, small, weak and vulnerable and yet He was worshipped by the wise men as a King. As He grew up His Kingship began to show itself. The opening words of the stories He told began with the words “The Kingdom of God is like this”. He spoke with authority for He was King of God’s Kingdom. The trouble is that He in no way looked, acted or spoke as people expected a king to speak, look or act.
He began His life in a poor stable and He then had to flee for His life as a refugee. He became a roving teacher relying on friends to feed and house Him. His ‘court’ was made up of poor, uneducated and sometimes disreputable men. Then when people finally recognised Him briefly as a King, He rode into the capital city not on a splendid war horse, the traditional transport of kings, He rode on a poor and humble donkey. This a beast of burden used for carrying heavy merchandise and in so doing He turned our ideas of kingship and sovereignty on their heads.
The land that Jesus lived in was a conquered land. A land ruled by the enemy where people longed for freedom. More importantly they longed for a king who would lead them in that fight for freedom and restore them to their promised land of peace and plenty. Jesus, however, taught them to love their enemies. To do good to those who hated them. To follow a way that build’s a Kingdom where God’s values of Love, Forgiveness, Justice, Peace, Service and Joy would reign supreme.
We live in times where violence, anger, desolation and suffering come close to us. We only have to look at the news to see its consequences. I’m sure that you, like me, find yourselves in the dilemma of wanting to find a peaceful solution to the present troubles. Yet in the face of the atrocities we hear arguments condoning military action as the only way to end them. I can only say that in the big scheme of things few of us have any power or control over the events that are happening in the world. What we do have control over are our own words, actions and decisions based on the values that we hold and try to live by and by putting their values into the actions of our daily living, so we are making a contribution to the building of a Kingdom that exists and grows within our world. Gods Kingdom of Love, Justice, Peace, Light and Joy exists and will eventually triumph over the chaos, darkness and violence that threatens to destroy.
As the violence and tragedy is played out before us we would do well to let the teaching and example of Jesus, the ‘upside down King’, reform our thinking. Jesus shows us through His life, persecution and death that peace isn’t got at any price but is achieved through love at all costs.
(This article by Rev Jenny was originally published as part of St David’s Messenger in January 2016)