The King of Hearts

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, backyard or one of the rooms of the house. Once you pushed everyone out of the way, you could stand in the designated spot and declare 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. The goal of some people is to be the person in charge. There are those who experience a great need to dominate and control everything. It does not matter what other people suffer while the goal of being in charge is pursued. At times, in governments, institutions, organizations, businesses, families and even churches, people’s lives are disregarded while others pursue their goal to be king of the mountain.

Just what kind of King is Jesus? Does he want to be king of the mountain, controlling and dominating us and everything else? No. His goal is 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 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 sinfulness, weaknesses, challenges, doubts and conflicts.

What is the goal of our lives? Where might we be trying to control or dominate someone else? Do we establish little kingdoms in our marriages, families and friendships, trying to control everything? As followers of Jesus, do we want to live like the king of the mountain in the childhood game? Or do we want to live with Jesus Christ, the humble King who extends his hand of mercy, healing and forgiveness in the midst of our everyday lives? Jesus has no desire to be king of the mountain. This feast reminds us that what he truly wants is to be King of our hearts.

Together in faith,

The Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector