Power struggles

Singpost for Sunday 22 November 2015, the Feast of Christ the King: 2 Samuel 23: 1-7; Psalm 132: 1-12; Revelation1: 4b-8; John 18: 33-37.

Three years ago, Paul reminded us of the history of the Feast of Christ the King. “The feast was instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius IX . . . a mere seven years after the end of the First World War and in its devastating wake, people were more interested in nationalism and secularism than in religion. The Pope decided we all needed reminding who is the ruler of kings on earth (Rev 1:5).”

Recently we have had further debate on the place of English royalty in our national polity; we have seen on T.V. the young Prince Harry supporting the English rugby team against his brother’s favourite, Wales; and later graciously presenting the World Cup to the All Blacks; and his father has visited New Zealand; and now a Republican has become the Prime Minister of Australia. So I wondered why the First Testament reading might not be changed to a selection from the First Book of Samuel, chapter 8. There we are told that inherited power can lead to bribery and corruption, in the tale of the sons of Samuel. As a result, Israel demanded a king and in doing so rejected the Lord as their King. Samuel warned the people against the bad habits of kings, taxation above all, leading even to slavery.

Other readings in the Christian tradition get back to the central claim that God is King. If we take this literally to its conclusion we would abolish the kings of the world and bring in some form of theocracy. Modern Iran might be an interesting example of such an experiment, as much as the Cromwellian Commonwealth.

I would certainly like to see the biblical literalists of Australia backing their new Prime Minister with well chosen biblical texts. That would be real fun, and as Linus says to Charlie Brown, “The theological implications alone are enormous.”

And I can’t get the tune, “Diademata”, out of my head!

Andrew

P.S. This was drafted a week early; I cannot get my head round the viciousness of the IS attack last Saturday on Paris, or the ferocity of the military reprisals. What is the proper response of self-sacrificing love to a suicide bomber?

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