This past Sunday was Christ the King Sunday, the end of the liturgical calendar—a new year starts this week with Advent.
Christ the King—a misnomer for a teacher sacrificed to Roman expediency. Yet we use a royal term.
We know what royalty should look like. Princess Anne's work with the Save the Children Fund takes her around the world. There was a problem in one place in Africa: the children did not believe she was a princess because she wasn’t dressed properly. She had to put on a tiara and a long dress before they were sure they had a proper princess in their midst.
Jesus never dressed like royalty. To God, a king is a shepherd. In Jeremiah’s time the people’s understanding of kingship was tainted by human kings who led them to the point of imminent destruction and deportation. Jeremiah spoke of the kings as shepherds who had failed to care for their people. He told the kings of Judah that God knew them as selfish shepherds, who would be judged for their evil. They were shepherds who had used their power to scatter the flock rather than protect it.
Protection for all the sheep is God’s call to all who exercise leadership, including our governments. Walter Wink, once speaking in Canada, noted with curiousity that we call government leaders “ministers" implying they are servants. Imagine walking into an expensive restaurant. You check your coat with a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Her Majesty Elizabeth II. You are startled when the stiff looking maitre’ d’ is none other than Justin Trudeau. The last straw is when a man replete in a crisp white apron introduces himself as your waiter: “Hi, I’m Doug.”
The ruler, the leader in authority is God’s servant--for your good. They are not to corrupt others by their selfishness. Their exercise of power is on behalf of God’s people.
All the people. No more, no less.