Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church, Amherst, NY
My kids and I play make believe often. We take turns being dragons and knights, princes and princesses, kings and queens. In one of our recent playtimes they introduced a new character: a horse. I was sitting on my throne in my castle made of pillows when my kids collectively agreed, “Dad, you’re a horse.”
After a bit of arguing and negotiation it became clear that my reign was at an end. My new role was to crawl around my house on my hands and knees with a kid on my back and two others shouting instructions from on high. My knees ached, my glasses got bent, my shirt collar was stretched beyond repair and I loved every minute of it.
Regardless of our age, I think we all like to dream about being kings and queens. We seek autonomy and power. We long for the freedom to make our own choices, set our own schedules, and chart our own course. We want to surround ourselves with people who will affirm us, dote on us, and do our bidding. For evidence of this you can refer to the last few big lottery drawings that gripped the hearts of many. In every room I walked in – at work, in the world, at home – I overheard people dreaming about life as the king or queen of their own private kingdom. No one dreams of winning the lottery so they can play the part of a horse for people smaller than them. And yet, that is the sort of living we are called into.
This Sunday Christian congregations across the globe celebrated Christ the King Sunday. A Sunday in the church year when we remember and rejoice in the Kingdom of God led by the King of Kings. What should not be lost on us is just how different this king is than the kings we’re accustomed to. Our king came to serve, not be served. To die for others, not to ask them to die for him. Our king makes a cross his throne and breaks down barriers between people rather than building walls between nations. Our king suffered for the sake of those he loved and wept over the brokenness of the kingdoms of this world.
And he calls us to do the same.
From a young age we are conditioned in this world to scheme and dream how we can be our own little king or queen. In the person of Christ and in the Kingdom of God that thinking is flopped on its head and is replaced with new questions. Questions like, Who can I carry today? Who can I serve today? Who can I sacrifice for today? In what ways can I set aside my pride today? How can I be selfless and not selfish today?
Now this sort of thinking requires a vulnerability, exposure and openness that might seem countercultural and dangerous, but take it from a guy that routinely pretends to be a horse: there is an indescribable joy that comes from serving others, caring for little ones, and allowing your knees to ache in order that you might be a blessing to someone else. This is true for a parent playing with their child and it is true for the Christian in the world. May you have the courage to leave your throne. May you have the courage to expand the walls around your kingdom. And if a child asks, may you have the courage to be a horse. You won’t regret it.
In the Way,
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