Monday, First Week of Advent
“She’s coming,” the farmer said to the owl.
“Oh, what shall I, what shall I do?
Shall I bow when she comes?
Shall I twiddle my thumbs?”
The owl asked, “Who?”
“The Queen, the Queen, the royal Queen—
She'll pass the farm today.
Shall I salute?” he asked the horse.
The horse said, “Nay.”
“Shall I give her a gift?” he asked the wren.
“A lovely memento for her to keep?
An egg or a peach or an ear of corn?”
The wren said, “Cheap.”
“But should I curtsy or should I cheer?
Oh, here's her carriage now.
What should I do?” he asked the dog.
The dog said, “Bow.”
And so he did, and so she passed,
Oh, tra la la la la,
“She smiled, she did!” he told the sheep.
The sheep said, “Bah.”
-- Shel Silverstein
The King is coming. How can we get ready? What should we do? What can we give him when he arrives? How can we act to honor his majesty?
We spend a lot of time focusing on the day of Christmas in our culture and relatively little preparing ourselves for this magnificent arrival. Maybe this is why. Maybe we don’t know how to deal with the anticipation of the King’s coming. A cynic might say that in our age of instant gratification, we don’t want the King to be coming –we want him to be here now! But maybe, like the farmer in Silverstein’s poem, we don’t know how to deal with the approach of a human being who seems to have a greater link to the divine ether than our problems here on earth.
Someone enamored of democracy might say that Americans, and indeed many other peoples, are too intelligent for a King, too advanced to think that there might be someone whose birth and very fiber of being sets them apart from the common throng. But we Americans choose Kings all the time. We just aren’t very good at it.
There was once a young man who was born in a small town and traveled to a bigger city in order to claim what he believed was his rightful place as King. He called himself “King James” proclaimed that “we are all witnesses” to his glory, and spread his arms wide like Jesus getting stretched out on the cross before his games. He said he would take his people to the Promised Land. But being King got a little tough, and he bolted at the first opportunity. Whoops. Wrong King.
Being a King is hard. Just ask LeBron James. Be careful which King you follow, or you might end up wandering in the desert a lot longer than you have to.
Fortunately, the King we’re waiting for in Advent is worth the anticipation, worth every bit of the hype –he’s not going to try and sell us out when we need him the most. In later ages, Kings were crowned because of their birth, because of who their father and mother were, and our King lays claim to his kingdom on that basis as well. But in the beginning of kingship, Kings were crowned because they’d fought for their kingdom –because they either claimed it by force, or because they were willing to fight in the thick of battle in order to preserve the peace of their Kingdom. And our King is willing to fight for us, too. Against the powers of death and Hell, against every temptation known to Man, up the rocky slope of Golgotha, lifted high on the Cross and laid low in the Tomb, our King fought and died for us –for his kingdom.
Being a King is hard.
But all of that sadness and darkness and gloom is in the future. For now, there are parades and triumphal marches and coronations to plan. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, and now, thank God, is the time to laugh.
The King is coming.
Will you be ready?
-- Dylan Thayer ‘13
O Come, O Come Emmanuel!