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Across the Pastor’s Desk: Jesus turns our world upside down

Across the Pastor’s desk by Katelyn Rakotoarivelo

Katelyn Rakotoarivelo

 

On Nov. 25, many churches observed Christ the King Sunday, marking the end of a church year. It’s not the most famous of days, but it’s one we might consider more deeply.

After all, what is a king? In the U.S. today, we don’t really think about kings and queens too much. For many of us, the term “king” either brings up fairytale images of servants and a fancy gold crown, or images of tyrannical kings and emperors of the past.

But surely that is not the kind of king Jesus is.

In John 18:36, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus is not a king who adheres to the world’s ways of violence and of seeking wealth and power at any expense. Jesus is not a king who absentmindedly watches us from afar. Jesus is not a king who favors those the world deems most successful.

Jesus’ kingdom is not from this world. Rather, Jesus as king and his kingdom turn all our notions of power, kingship and what’s important upside down.

Jesus is a king who serves (Matthew 20:28), who heals (Mark 6:56), and who uplifts the poor and oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus is a king unlike any other. Perhaps the most radical way Jesus turns our ideas of kingship and power upside down is that he is a king who is crucified. He is a king who dies (and rises, of course) for us.

Jesus’ way of life is so different from what we’ve accepted as the norm: it involves sacrificial love, uplifting the overlooked and refusing to bow down to the world’s ways of power.

And while Jesus may not still be walking the earth healing, teaching and serving, his kingship and kingdom are no less important today than 2,000 years ago. The Holy Spirit is here guiding us in Jesus’ ways, if only we’d pay attention. Guiding us to learn the names of people experiencing homelessness that we usually avoid, to pray for people we don’t see eye to eye with, to welcome someone who is different from us.

Claiming Jesus as our king means following him as he turns our ideas of kingship and power upside down. It means knowing God is guiding us as we follow Jesus’ ways and not the pressures of the world.

Jesus turns our world and what the world values upside down. And he does so all year round — as one church year ended with Christ the King and another begins with Advent, we see our king come to us in the most vulnerable of forms, a baby born in a stable to a young mother in Bethlehem. By the world’s standards, this must be one powerless king. But we know better.

How is Jesus turning your world and your life upside down?

The Rev. Katelyn Rakotoarivelo is pastor of  Concordia Lutheran Church of Pickerel Lake (ELCA) in Albert Lea.