Sunday, November 22, 2015

King of Who?

Christ the King Sunday

It's Christ the King Sunday, which I've had an aversion to ever since my earliest political awakenings.  Monarchy is an archaic idea for a lot of us, but hierarchy is not- power structures where the strong rule over the weak, the rich rule over the poor, and the folks in charge seem like they're going to keep being in charge for a long, long, time.  My understanding of who Jesus is seems to have little to do with these structures, unless it's in a relationship of profound tension and opposition to the "powers that be."

And.  It's still Christ the King Sunday, and we still have scriptural traditions confessing the Risen Jesus as Lord, and King and Ruler.  In recent years, I've taken some consolation in the question, "king of what?", reflecting on what confessing Christ's kingship means in our lives and the like.  But this year seems like more of a "king of who" kind of year.

I haven't had much to add to the recent conversations about refugees- I've been busy moving across the country, and I'm trying to get settled here. But moving from one community where I have a safe place to stay, enough to eat, and people who love me TO a community where I have a safe place to stay, enough to eat, and people who love me has been so disruptive, so challenging, such a stretch for my body and family and soul, that it makes me wonder about whether a refugee experience would utterly crush me.  And so I am grateful for the King of Refugees.

Because Christ is King of Refugees, not in the way that Henry the VIII was King of England, but in the way that Michael Jackson is the King of Pop.  King of refugees because he is the foremost among them, the refugee of refugees.  Born amidst the slaughter of innocents, fleeing to Egypt and taking safety there, among strangers, among foreigners, among neighbors who must have welcomed them, must have helped the holy family to find food and work and a warm place to stay.  The King of Refugees who spent his ministry wandering, often without a certain place to rest, or a sense of where his next meal was coming.  Genderqueer and occupied and outcast, the divine seeking some breath of sanctuary among us hateful and sometimes graceful mortals.

Christ is the King of Refugees, Christ is the King of Queers.  Christ is the King of the Homeless Wanderers, Christ is the King of the Broken.  He hates violence and has commanded us to put aside the sword, but his army is a scattered crazy-quilt of lovers and seekers and trouble-makers.  He has no treasury but our tattered hope and he has no castle but our broken hearts.

But he's not just King of Refugees, he's also Lover of us all.  Lover of the refugee-haters, lover of the racist politicians, lover of my all-too-often-hateful heart.  Lover of disaffected terrorists, lover of martyrs and thieves and rapists and all the rest of us sorry beautiful lot.  He is King to the exclusion of all other masters, and lover to the fulfillment of every other lover.

So, it's Christ the King Sunday.  And I'm still in.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Villanelle for Haymarket

(I left this in the kudos box before I left town.)

Bread and sweat and heart and stone
Flaking paint cannot conceal
Love that warms me to the bone.

All the tender hearts will groan:
what will this old house reveal?
Bread and sweat and heart and stone.

Sing out in crowd or all alone,
heat the oven, prepare the meal:
love that warms me to the bone.

Pots to wash and knives to hone;
there's nothing here that you could steal-
bread and sweat and heart and stone.

Sure as the flock of crows has flown
I carry it like coals that heal:
bread and sweat and heart and stone,
love that warms me to the bone.