As we get ready to enter Advent for another year, we are first asked the question, “who is our King?”
An interesting question in this time in history, when an election has unleashed hatred that many of us have not witnessed at such a personal level in our lifetimes. An election whose results have seeped across the border and allowed hatred to go unfettered. In Ottawa alone, a Rabbi’s home, one Mosque, one United Church, and two Jewish Synagogues were all vandalized over the period of one week.
Depending on your social media feeds and favourite news sources you, like me, may have come across a few articles and opinion pieces noting that much of the hatred that fuels the recent tension emerged from groups of white Christians who feel that the United States must be ‘reclaimed’ to its greatness. Quite possibly, this rhetoric defends the actions of hatred here in Canada, as well.
For those of us who are also white Christians, we might feel a little uneasy with the reality that somehow we have cousins (no matter how distant we define them to be) who believe in a Jesus who supports these actions, beliefs, attitudes, and demands. And though we may never invite these relatives over for a tea, Advent might be a prudent time to sit with the discomfort that emerges when we recognize that there are those with whom we share at least some bonds of identity who, with us, ascribe to also be following Christ the King.
Who is our King?
Is it possible that all of us are a product of 2000 years of images, perceptions and definitions? A King who is white, clean and pristine, clothed with bleach white robes and regal, red, flowing fabric? A King whose mother, white skinned as well, was submissive and a virgin? A King who likes all the King-like things: majestic buildings, nice altars, beautiful chalices? A King who supports division after division after division of denominations and sects? A King who affirms hierarchy and power as only Kings would do? A King whose throne is perched so high above that stepping over others is accepted and considered necessary by those deemed most worthy to sit beside him?
Might we have normalized this particular image of a King, slowly and systematically year after year? An image that can be used in a helpful and harmful ways by those who most closely identify with its picture? An image that can be used effectively by you, me, and even our distant cousins?
Might the process of creating this image, this image that is embedded in our stained glass windows and our places of worship, be the cause for another image to have disappeared? The image of a King whose skin is brown, and whose robe is dirty? Who was a poor, and homeless outsider deemed worthy to ignore? Whose refugee mother was a strong, unwed teenager who accepted her pregnancy and declared a protest song? A King who refused hierarchy and who sat with all? Who declared division unacceptable? Who gave the highest honour not to chalices and gold but rather to rotting grapes and a simple piece of bread? A King whose throne was a cross that no one would ever seek to reach?
Who is our King?
Maybe asking this question is a prudent task this Advent. An invitation to reflect, transform, release, and wait. Wait and confess our role in upholding images that have been to our benefit. Wait and reclaim an image that seeks to emerge and normalize. Wait and enable truthful images to grow and take hold.
Wait for our King to be birthed once again. Wait with expectant hope that he is one who more closely resembles that child in the barn.