As a child, I remember playing a game called “King of the Mountain.” The goal of the game was to control a part of the playground or backyard. Once you succeeded in pushing everyone out of the way, you stood in the designated spot and declared yourself “King of the Mountain.” There were no rules. It did not matter what you did to any of the other players to eventually declare yourself the king.
This game imitates what happens sometimes in life. Some people’s only goal in life is to be the person in charge. They want to dominate and control everything and everyone. It does not matter who is hurt in the process of pursuing the goal of being in charge. It happens sometimes that governments, institutions, organizations, businesses, families and even churches, disregard the lives of others in pursuit of the prize of being king of the mountain.
On this feast of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, it is fitting to ask just what kind of king Jesus is, anyway? Does he want to be king of the mountain, controlling and dominating us and everything else? No. Our king wants to live with us in our humanity. Instead of controlling us, Jesus wants to transform us. Where does our king live? Does he live in a huge mansion or luxurious palace? No. Our king lives with the homeless, the oppressed, the persecuted, and those living on the margins of society. He lives with the imprisoned and, as he did with the thief in the Gospel, he extends his hand of mercy and forgiveness (Luke 23:35-43). Our king lives with us in our goodness and sinfulness, weaknesses and strengths, joys and sorrows, challenges and successes.
Jesus Christ the King invites us to think about the goals of our lives. Have we established little kingdoms trying to control everything in our marriages, our families, our friendships? Do we sometimes want to live as if we are the kings (and queens) of the mountain? Or do we want to live with Jesus Christ, the humble king, who daily extends to us his hand of mercy, healing and forgiveness? Jesus does not want to be king of the mountain. We celebrate him today as the king of our hearts.
The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector