King of kings (Christ the King Sunday)

They want to tell me why tornadoes are the best kind of storm. “They can lift cars!” “And houses!” “And skyscrapers!” … a long pause. “And fire trucks!” The scribbling continues in earnest: yellow onto red, blue onto purple onto regular pencil, back to the green on the bottom of the page. I lean in, but I’m casting a shadow over his Jackson Pollock and so I return back to the girl and her world map.

She is concentrating on a red dot stuck to her finger, trying to place it somewhere between the Atlantic and Jerusalem. Her tongue sticks out a little, and she hovers over her masterpiece. “There” she says, planting the dot firmly over the northern tip of Ireland. “There?” I say. “Yes, there. Jesus lives there.” Somehow, I know she is right.

And when the rain stick is held high and turned over and over, the children scramble off their mats, hastily put away wet glue brushes and trays of beads, and gather around the prayer table. They huddle together and we light the candle (fire is still marvelously exciting, as they tell us often). “What is this?” Miss Andrea asks, pointing to the gold crown drawn onto the prayer card. “A crown!” they giggle. “Who wears a crown?” We’re told princesses, a girl at Halloween who was a princess, a prince, and finally, the four year old boy next to me says, “Kings.” So then we begin to wonder, against the hum of a space heater and the clock ticking relentlessly towards 10:30 – what are kings like? What do they do? What does it mean to be king of kings?

The boy next to me, oh, he knows. “He tells the other kings what to do.” And when we ask them, who is this King of kings?

Jesus, he says.

The one who tells the other kings what to do. The one who comes into the world, not to rescue us out of it, but to rescue it with us, to save the whole. To tell the other kings what to do so that we might live in the fullness of His life. Do you ever feel like you forget, in the midst of our good emphasis on Jesus’ love and grace, his servanthood, his teaching, his carpentry – that He is the King of Kings?

And he shall reign forever and ever.

I forgot, I realize as we begin to fold up mats, snuff out the candle, button Kate into her coat and find a stray shoe flung across the room. I forgot that Jesus is King of kings. I forgot that He tells the other kings what to do, that their life, our life, is from Him. That he saves us all, in the fullness of His coming, in the fullness of His time, and reigns forever and ever.

Maybe this Advent, it’s not about deep spiritual books or fasts. Maybe it’s not about finding difficult theology, or wrestling with icons or prayers. Maybe this Advent we are meant to be with the little children who know Him without irony, without amusement, without worry.

Maybe this Advent the answer to our big questions – of who and how, and why, and when?

Jesus, he says. 



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