By Rev Angela C Bosfield Palacious
We all have authority figures in our lives. Most of us had parents, grandparents or guardians who enforced various rules and regulations, establishing boundaries and limits, for our good. We knew who was "large and in charge," especially in families where children could not offer explanations or opinions as this was considered "answering back."
In my home, my father had a special recliner as his chair, a thicker glass for beverages and heavier cutlery. He had his place at the head of the table as well.
At school, we had principals who left no doubt in our minds that we had better "toe the line". My mother was a primary school principal and I still meet her students who speak fondly of her influence on the behaviour, even if it took her cane to encourage them on the right road. As a primary teacher myself for a few years, I learned how to be firm yet fair, while assisting my students with the development of self-control rather than "authority control".
After the school years, most persons who are employed work with supervisors, managers or owners. Some have their staff "tiptoeing around them as if walking on egg shells" to receive a promotion or merely keep the job. Others have a far more pleasant experience, where there is support given and respect shown.
In other arenas such as civic, political or religious groups, there are presidents and other executive officers who wield various levels of power. Here we encounter a variety of leadership styles, and sometimes, individual members are pressured to compromise on their values and principles in order to join or retain membership.
In court, there is no question where the authority lies, where titles such as "your worship" and "M'Lord" are used to address the judge or magistrate, and all rise when they enter the room.
Similarly, in church, there are distinguishing robes, or seats, or titles that make it clear who has authority in a particular service or meeting. As in court, one bows when crossing from one side of the church to the other, as we also do in the presence of the Governor General. We hold various persons or their positions in high esteem, and there is a particular type of deference paid to them.
In a few short weeks, it will be Christmas, and once again we will welcome our new-born King. What kind of reverence should he receive, and what level of worship should we offer to distinguish who he is in comparison to human authority figures?
Jesus Christ is not born in a palace and no pomp and pageantry accompanies his appearance. He will be born in a stable to humble parents, working as a carpenter and then operating as an itinerant preacher, teacher and healer. He will be tried in a "kangaroo court", sentenced to flogging and crucifixion, finally being resurrected on Easter Sunday. Our ascended King sits at the right hand of God, which reflects his power and authority. When he comes again, it will be a different story. He will come with power and might, with glory and honour. We will know who is in control. Let us respond with faithful obedience to our loving and forgiving Saviour while He is with us as Saviour, before He comes as our judge.
How do we pay our respects in worship? Those of us in traditions where we kneel to pray, we often have to be reminded that this is an act of humility in the presence of our Almighty God. Others have to be admonished to conduct themselves in a more seemly manner while in the house of God.
We who spend our nine-tenths on often frivolous or extravagant things, may find it hard to give one-tenth to the work of the Kingdom of God, forgetting that all things come from God in the first place. We who go for days without reading our bibles or praying, will often do whatever it takes to "curry favour" or kiss up" to earthly benefactors for titles, positions, or material things.
We human beings are strange creatures who may he hypocritically religious while in church, and then for the rest of the week, have little gratitude toward our good and gracious God. We all have our faults, failings and weaknesses, and Advent is an excellent time to examine our consciences in order to welcome our soon coming King. Take time to prepare. While we wait, let's meditate, repent and change our ways.