It is called the Kingdom Season, writes Rev Sydney Maitland, when thoughts are directed to the Kingdom of God, and it normally begins with All Saints Day, concluding on the last Saturday before Advent. Christ the King is the focus, and in writing this, we will have almost completed the Kingdom Season before this issue of the magazine has been produced. It is still worth thinking about, especially as its middle falls at Remembrance-tide. But that is perhaps its flaw as it tempts us to think about our affairs and how we expect God to fit in with them. We all want peace and justice, care for the environment, prosperity to be spread evenly in our cities and streets – but somehow it ends up with us defining what we mean in these terms.
Justice? Will we really want to see things as God sees them and has shown us in scripture? Is it not more satisfying to mouth off than to hold our peace when arguments are being traded and points scored? Do we really want to be responsible for the feelings and emotions that we have trampled on and the trials of others that we have trivialised? Do we really want the judgment of God to visit our angry and sarcastic asides, especially when the person affected was not able to defend himself or herself?
What about peace? Both the Nazis and the Communists offered a kind of peace – one defined and dominated by their methods and weapons. Our parents could have had either but rejected them in favour of the rule of law and equality before the law; open, representative and responsible government, and the right to determine our affairs. But we had to fight to secure them, and even them we needed the help of allies from far away. Does peace mean the wholeness of Shalom, or the acquiescence in mass murder, mass imprisonment and slavery?
And I could go on. But this begs a different question, namely whether we will allow God to define our peace and then to bestow it upon us, filled with the fullness of His Holy Spirit and rooted and grounded in the total, unconditional, extravagant self-giving of Jesus. It is a different kind of peace to that of politicians, who will focus on what is achievable and how its compromises may be represented to their people.
But it is a peace that reigns and rules. It starts within the depths of our lives, especially in those parts which are the most vulnerable and sensitive. But it is powerful, dynamic and effective as we allow it to shape us and to move us according to His purposes.
And that is what the Prince of Peace is about.
Every blessing this Advent and Christmastide.