"then wilt thou not be loath to leave this Paradise, but shalt possess a paradise within thee, happier far. Let us descend now therefore from this top of speculation; for the hour precise exacts our parting hence" Paradise Lost, Book XII, lines585-590

Thursday, June 7, 2012

...and his kingdom will have no end

by Hans Memling
All the hoopla surrounding Queen Elizabeth II of Britain's Diamond Jubilee has me wondering about the line in the Nicene Creed where we say that Christ will return and that his kingdom will have no end.  If diamonds are for 60th anniversaries, what do you get for your 1000th - unobtainium perhaps?

Here in America, I think despite our revolutionary heritage, we kinda sorta like monarchs.  The British Royal Family is possibly more popular her than in Britain and certainly judging from Walt Disney's fare anyway, princesses are very popular.

But even more so, our view of the President's role in our national life as well as the kind of promises that Presidential candidates make, many people seem to wish they were electing a king (sorry, no queens just yet) instead of an executive functionary whose real role is to carry out and enforce the laws and policies enacted by Congress.  Being Commander-in-Chief, especially in an age unconstrained by legal niceties like declaring war, is a powerful power aphrodisiac which may have contributed for a desire for someone to come along and make things right.  Its too bad that most people today, unlike the founders, don't study Roman history; because if they did people might not be so eager for a strong President.

But I digress, sort of.  What exactly do we think of Christ's coming kingdom?  Monarchy works pretty well in Britain because the monarch really doesn't have the ability to exercise any real power.  She is a figurehead and a living embodiment of state authority, but I don't think she could yell "off with his head" and expect anyone to listen.  Surely that isn't what we mean by Christ's kingdom though do we?  Or is it?

Do we really want a king to whom we must pay obeisance?  Someone who will judge us (living and dead) and whose judgment has no appeal?  Or do we expect to be Abrahams haggling with God over the fate of those consigned to punishment?  Will expect a God who will conform to our will?  Somehow I'm thinking that's not how it will play out so what does that mean to us in our lives right now?  

Well, actually I'm not so sure.  If I think that the Spirit is leading me to take a particular stance or to vote a particular way and I lose does that mean that I discerned incorrectly or that evil has carried the day?  In our national politics and our church (Episcopal Church anyway) we seem to choose the latter more often it seems to me.  Frankly, I think we could all use a little more humility and submission, but hey, that's just me.

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