When it comes to spiritual metaphors, kingdom is problematic for me. I’ve written about it before. Thus, my sonnet offering for today.
When Jesus talked of God, he spoke of shepherds and of kings –
the metaphors held meanings people knew;
they’ve survived the centuries when we speak and when we sing,
yet the original meanings struggle to get through.
So let us ask why, when we’re trying to speak in present tense,
we chose to cling to things that are archaic?
When we see that no one’s laughing, it certainly makes sense
‘Cause we keep on telling jokes in Aramaic.
With any of the parables, the reader has to work,
and that labor deepens with distance from the telling;
our interpretations must be more relevant than rote,
less compliant, more subversive and compelling.
Jesus wasn’t kidding when he warned about new wine,
New eyes and new wineskins are needed by design.
P. S. — In preparing for Thanksgiving, I also offer new pie recipes here, here, here, here, and here.
I understand your hesitance with kingdom language. I share some of your concerns, but I’m not ready to let it go, partly because it is Jesus’ language, and partly because (as you’ve said) we don’t have anything adequate to take its place.
I have a friend who is a poet, Susan Palo Cherwien, and she wrote a new Christ the King hymn a few years back. This year we published a new collection of her texts, Come, Beloved of the Maker, that includes it. And I set it to music for my congregation.
Before the Ancient One, Christ stands,
Enrobed in cloud and bright as snow,
Five wounds imprint his side, feet, hands,
And thorns, the garland on his brow. Yet thrones and powers fall to the knee
And weave a song of majesty,
For what the world admires as gain
Is not the essence of Christ’s reign,
And strength is his, and name and might,
Because he pitied humans’ plight.
Who was, and is, and is to come
As servant lived in human sphere;
Compassion was his diadem;
His glory was the gentle tear;
Humility, his pruple garb;
The healing hand, his royal orb.
Such love drew ire and ore drew death,
But God has proved the truer strength,
And through all space the host proclaims
The name above all other names.
Now in the latter days you call,
O Christ, and plead the premise clear,
That power grasped is none at all,
And serving shows your Spirit near.
As nations clash and wisdom wanes,
As glories tempt and greed sustains,
You bid us choose in every hour
The power of love, the greatest power,
That love may herald God’s domain,
And you, at last, may come to reign.
Copyright © 1997 Susan Palo Cherwien
“that labor deepens with distance from the telling”