A crisp pink hue layered with baby blue on the horizon as dawn peeked over snow-covered rooftops and hinted at the brilliance of daylight to come. There was a reverence to its drifting over a world not quite awake, and a curiosity about its calm certainty, a confidence in the world it was revealing. And so it is on the last Sunday of the liturgical year, a kind of calm confidence in becoming, in waiting in this present space between past and future. This is, after all, the Feast of Christ the King.
There is a hidden appeal to the very idea of Christ as a King, an implied ordering and a sense of peace. There is the ritual of monarchy that ensures fealty and frames tragedy and celebration. There is a tenor of hope in its very existence, and a purposeful unity in its proclamation. Seeing Christ as King is more than a moment of subservience or mere obedience. It is about realizing that just as a King dazzles an empire with omnipotence and omnipresence, God is wherever we are and whoever we see. It is about a Jesus of flesh and blood who agonized and adapted and wrestled with governmental and legal systems just as we do. It is realizing that this King stretched through challenges as we do, felt for others as we do, and continually strove to do the right thing. Ours is not a king of distance but one of destiny that transcends the clamor of democracies and republics and all other combinations. This is a King who accepts what is and invites each person to think about choice.
There is joy in this holiday, in the realization that God reigns. The feast day places God squarely in the center: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” There is a strength and unity in that that serves all and somehow transcends the other structures like government and economic systems. There is a simplicity in faithfulness, humility in honor and ultimately respect for human life and circumstances. And it comes at the end of the journey through another year, a reminder that whatever happened, however it happened, why and when it happened, there was still, mysteriously, this gentle monarch waiting and watching.
As a child, it all made so much sense to me. If only we could all believe the same things, trust in the same system, wouldn’t there be peace? As an adult, I learned the day was instituted in the 1920’s as a shield against secularism and atheism. And only later did I learn it was twenty years more before it found this place on the liturgical calendar. That came in the midst of a world turned upside down with the destruction of World War II. In an odd way, in these times, in a country gripped by polarities and ambiguities, it might be even more relevant than ever before. And so another day dawns.