This coming Saturday (May 6th 2023) we will crowning the sovereign of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, King Charles the Third, and during the service the will be asked to pay homage to him. On reflecting on this occasion I am reminded of the fact that there is a Heavenly Kingdom out of which this earthly Kingdom and the universe was created by God and that Jesus is at the right hand of his Father God and bears many crowns as King of Kings over all the earth. One day this earthly kingdom will be completely subsumed and transformed by this heavenly kingdom where the earth and heaven become one, with Jesus undeniably the King.
Christians recognise that Jesus is the Christ – the King promised in the pages of the Old Testament who will re-establish God’s kingdom on earth, ensuring that God’s will is once more done ‘on earth as it is in heaven’Isa.11: 1-9 . Right at the beginning of his ministry, he went through Galilee proclaiming that “The kingdom of God is at hand” Mark 1:15. And by the time his ministry ends his disciples have reached the conclusion that Jesus is himself the king to which that kingdom belongs.And this is why we are taught by Jesus to pray “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”Matthew 6:10 The central message of Jesus is the coming of God’s kingdom.
The kingdom of God is already with us in the hearts in those who love our King Jesus. We bow before his majesty for he is a King like no other. He does not Lord it over us but exercises his rule by serving us; whose kingdom is about justice and unity, where greatness is found in true humility. “I tell you the truth,” he says, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15. His is a kingdom of love where in obedience to to his Father in heaven King Jesus voluntarily laid down his life to restore us wayward citizens into a righteous relationship with God our heavenly Father. And perhaps most extraordinarily of all, this is a kingdom whose law is optional. There can be no reluctant citizens of this kingdom. One of the great gifts this King bestows on us is freewill. But that freewill is best exercised when we choose Jesus as our King, because to do so is to choose goodness, humility, peace, justice and truth and a ticket into God’s kingdom for eternity– the very things our souls need the most.
Of course, giving people choice means that many will choose other paths and at times those paths may be in the ascendant. God’s kingdom may at times seem fragile, limp, impotent, but in fact with Jesus as King it is far more powerful than any force in this world. Ultimately selfishness will self-destruct and implode. Anger and violence will burn itself out.Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Those kill the body cannot harm the soul. If a soul chooses the way of truth and light, peace and justice, humility and love, nothing can extinguish it. When the hatreds of human beings have burned themselves out, faith hope and love will be seen to endure. In the end, God’s kingdom triumphs. And even in the whirlwind of battle, and we are in the heat of battle right now, God’s kingdom triumphs, for these are the things, faith, hope and love, that make life worth living, more than all the gold and passing power or fame this world can offer.
To pray “thy kingdom come” is to long for a different world, a better world; to long for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven; to long for a world where the meek are honoured as the great ones, where quiet humility is listened to reverently, where wisdom is valued, where the mourning are comforted and where the poor are rich. But it is also to long for hearts to be reconciled to God and to choose God’s will, not out of obligation, or fear, or grudging duty, but out of love and out of freewill. For that is what sets our souls free and enables God’s eternal life to come alive in us. To pray for justice and peace requires hearts to be re-made and minds to be re-oriented back to God. And that is why praying “thy kingdom come” requires us to pray both for peace and justice on earth and for our friends and neighbours to know and love Christ, for it is all part of the same kingdom movement by which human souls choose the life of our servant king. And if we pray that for our world and for our neighbour, then to pray “thy Kingdom come” is also to invite God into our hearts; to deal with our pride; to give us compassion; to grow a passion for justice; and to cultivate, deep in our souls, those three eternal things: faith, hope and love.
So as we are asked to pay homage to king Charles, let us pay homage to his Majesty King Jesus who rules over all that is in heaven, earth and the universe.
His kingdom come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.