Ezekiel 34, 11-12 15-17 + Psalm 23 + 1 Corinthians 15, 20-26, 28 + Matthew 25, 31-46
With the approach of this feast, I found myself humming a melody that is not found in any of the hymn books we use around the country, and it is not likely to find its way there any time soon. The closer time came to putting down some thoughts about this annual celebration of Christ the King the more dominant that song became in my mind. I am sure you all know what it is like to have some tune running in the background of your mind for hours or days at a time. That is what has been going on with me. The song comes from “The Lion King”, a classic tale that portrays themes of honor, loyalty, bravery, and most of all, love. It is a sentimental tale, and the Disney movie with a song by Tim Rice performed by Elton John only makes it more so. Sentimental or not, the message comes through, and the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” fits in perfectly to tell about unconditional love shared by the two main characters. Striking metaphors reveal the message of love’s unstoppable power despite the tribulations and hardships often found in this life.
The lyrics work to emphasize the strength of love. The image of a “restless warrior” emerges in the song, and with it, the restless warrior, Jesus Christ emerges for me. The warrior who does battle with sin and hatred, betrayal and arrogance, a religion gone dry by legalism and its heartless enforcers. Then in the lyrics comes a “wide eyed wanderer” evoking images of the Nazareth carpenter’s son who has no place to lay his head and invites his followers to a life of wide-eyed wonder at the inclusive and powerful love God has for those who like God’s only son find refuge in the mystery of love which the lyrics call an “enchanted moment”.
The story and the song within it encourages optimism and great hope because of love’s presence in life. The way love is expressed in the song suggests that love provides the power to survive every challenge and pain providing shelter from many of life’s obstacles. The singer suggests that one day everyone, from Kings to vagabonds will discover the wonder and power of love.
I have never thought that Jesus would have been or is even today comfortable in the role of a King. Something about the image we have of him from the Gospel is contrary to a Royal Sovereign lording over subjects. However I do not think Jesus Christ would have any trouble at all with the thought of you and me as royal people lifted up, robed, and living with dignity restored to us by his suffering and death. The triumphalism too often suggested by this feast is hallow and deceiving as long as one of God’s loved ones lives like a stranger, hungry, thirsty, naked or imprisoned with no one to visit.
Like wide eyed wanderers we have now completed a year-long telling of the story of God’s love revealed in Matthew’s Gospel. It is a story of hope that speaks to the hungry and the thirsty, the immigrant stranger, those without clothes and those imprisoned inviting them into the wonder of God’s love. We take the image of Christ in Matthew’s Gospel that begins with gifts for a King brought by three wanderers who in come in hope. We tell the story of his rejection and alienation ultimately concluding with his crucifixion, and then we tell the story of love’s victory and triumph with the resurrection. It is all a story of hope that reaches out to embrace and sustain us all. It is a story that sustains our hope because, as the song says: “There is a time for everyone” that leads us to believe the very best.