We Americans get nervous when we hear the word “king.” Ever since we fought a costly and painful war to separate ourselves from King George and England, we have associated “kingship” with an unsavory means of governing. Except for our fascination with things royal in the social pages of the newspaper and the internet, we find ourselves more comfortable with things of a democratic nature.
That is why we are sometimes confused with the title of this Sunday’s celebration.Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The common perception of a king is that of one who can rule over others with relative impunity, who sits clothed in velvet on a golden throne, who can issue arbitrary commands that must be obeyed under pain of punishment, one who answers to no one else on earth for his actions and deeds.
One look at the readings for this Sunday will leave us questioning what kind of a king is it who acts as a shepherd, searching out the lost sheep, caring for the sick and the injured. What kind of a king humbles himself by laying down his life that all might experience eternal life? And exactly what kind of a king is so enmeshed in the personal lives of his subjects that he cares that they do not thirst, do not hunger, are welcomed when they are strangers and visited when they are ill or in prison?
This king we celebrate today is the antithesis of an earthly king; our king washes feet, is a servant to all, his throne was a cross…the kingdom he proclaims is one where all are welcome, all are fed, all are respected and loved…his kingdom is peace, for all, among all,