Saturday, December 26, 2015
What It Means To Be "Royal"
Hello everyone and Happy Holidays! I hope you had a blessed and merry Christmas and that you will have a blessed and prosperous new year!
Recently, I've had a couple of conversations on what it means to be “Royal”. Royalty has become a hot topic in modern culture. Prince William and Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge, The recent wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist and the recent royal nupitals in Monaco have gotten the whole world it seems, talking about royalty... what it means to be royal... the pomp and circumstance that comes with the title... the parties... the traveling... the state events... it seems the whole world is mesmerized by their glamorous lifestyle. Average, middle-class people are willing to go into great debt or go to great extremes to have a look of opulence, which they equate with being “royal”... to have a dress like Catherine or a hairstyle like Sofia or your pop star de jour. They will change their mannerisms, their look and occasionally their speech, all in an attempt to be like “royalty”. But are all the public events and pomp and circumstance what it really means to be “royal”?
Out of all the recent royal couples out there, I think I admire Prince William and Catherine the most, not because they are royalty, but because they appear to be very down to earth people. They take care of their children. Charles goes to work everyday just like any young husband and father. Catherine does her own grocery shopping, just like any other young wife and mother. They just happen to be heirs to one of the oldest, successive monarchies in the western hemisphere and yet doing “common”, everyday, mundane things, like doing your own grocery shopping, isn't beneath them... down to earth and in some ways, a little Christ-like.
Black's Law Dictionary defines “royal” as, “Of or pertaining to or proceeding from the king in a monarchical government” [ 6th ed. p. 1330]. In the book of John, Chapter 17, Jesus “lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” [Jn. 17:1-5] Jesus was asking God the Father, the First of the trinity, to restore him to the fullness of his divinity because his work was done.
Christ was and is and will always be the ultimate royal. He willingly cast off the fullness of his divinity, to take on flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth [Jn. 1:14], to become the son of Mary, a simple young girl and to be raised by Joseph, a simple carpenter [Lk 1:20]. He allowed himself to be subjected to all of what it means to be fully human... pain, loss, need, temptation, hunger, humiliation and ultimately death [Matt. 27:50] and only at the very end, at his most human point, did he ask, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me” [Matt. 27:46]. Christ is the ultimate royal in that he was willing to suffer the cross, all for his people... you and me... for the Kingdom of God.
This Christmas, as I sat in church singing Christmas carols and looking at the beautiful lights and decorations, I thought of the day the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a savior... I thought about the day Christ is born in a manger (not a palace)... I thought about the wise men who traveled to pay tribute to Christ, one of only two acts of pomp in his life (the other being Palm Sunday) and how simple and beautiful and awe-inspiring these moments are, and I wonder if we today have any real understanding of what it means to be royal at all.