As Americans, we have a natural barrier to reading the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.
We are inherently suspicious of royalty.
Whether you agree with the current Libertarians or not, our early American (the formerly British ones...not the nice folks that already lived here) brothers and sisters came to this land with a clear "leave me alone, you stinkin Monarch" vibe.
AND when we read our scriptures, the passages are filled with references to King and Lord. The context in which most of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures are written is a context in which there is a King, or the threat of a King, or the memory of a King...and understanding this is important to our reading the stories and instruction we find there.
And in this week's lectionary readings where we are remembering the beginning of the liturgical season of Epiphany, our lack of royalty enthusiasm can inhibit our reading a bit.
The season of Epiphany celebrates the coming of Light to the world. On this day we remember the three Kings (from the 'east'....often named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) stopping to visit King Herod to ask where the King of the Jews has been born. Today, we can work to try to understand what all of the implications of this event might have been, but it is awful difficult for us to really crawl in to the context and understand what it might have meant to King Herod (a friend of the Romans and overlord of the Jews) to have three foreign Kings show up ask about a new King of the Jews that had been born.
And, as anti-royalists, we also have to do some extra work to join with the excitement that we find in all of these passages this week where folks are so happy that a King / Lord has come to bring light in to their world. In the passage from Isaiah, we read, "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you." In the Psalm from this week we see a prayer that God imbue the King with power to defend and protect them forever: "May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth." In Paul's letter to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus he talks to his readers about the ways that the coming of Christ has realigned the balance of power that he understands.
However, our current context can give us some some unique ability to read these scriptures in a different way that might be just as valid. We may not have the understanding of what it means to live under the rule of a King, but each of us as individuals can understand what it means to live in darkness and be revived by the Light. Each of us either has experienced (or knows someone who has experienced) oppression at the hands of a system not of our own creation...and we can understand a yearning toward a leader that will right those wrongs.
Have you been brought out of darkness? Can you imagine what it means to put your hope and trust in a King? Can you imagine traveling many days to search for a King that will bring Light to the world?
God, help us as we attempt to
Help us as we attempt to
subvert our independence
in an effort
in our lives.
© matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.