K is for Kingdom
Before he is put to death, the Roman governor asks him if he is the king. He answers, “My kingdom is not from this world.” If it were, he says, his followers would be fighting for him.
Before he is conceived, the angel tells Mary, “He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
What kind of kingdom is this? It has no flag or anthem. It has no borders. It has no gold in its treasury. It builds no prisons. It raises no armies. It inspires not pride but humility. It cannot be found on any atlas, but wherever love is revealed, wherever mercy is shown, wherever grace is given, it shines through.
Its promise is fulfilled when “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” For the prophet Isaiah, who wrote these words, these were not just idyllic pastoral images but a countercultural vision of warring peoples finally learning to live in peace.
This is the work of Advent: to let the kingdom shine through in our lives, to devote ourselves to the love by which it will be revealed among us, and to kneel before our king by putting his kingdom, and our citizenship therein, first in our lives.
(Photo: Detail from the 1829–30 Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks in the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum Collection.)