Spirituality for Today – November 2012 – Volume 17, Issue 4

Elvis Or Jesus

By Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

An illustration of Elvis

Frank Sinatra was called the Chairman of the Board, Bruce Springsteen is the Boss, but Elvis Pressley was the King. Throughout history, men and women who either held the most powerful positions in society or possessed extraordinary talent, in many cases, have been recognized simply by the title given to them. The final Sunday of the Church year is dedicated to Christ as King. We sing of the Wise Men who came to find the newborn "King of the Jews" and the sign Pilate had placed over Jesus' head as he hung upon the cross declaring him to be "King of the Jews." Neither Magi nor procurator could have recognized the full import of the kingship of Jesus. To appreciate the title of king given to Jesus, one must understand the notion of the Kingdom of God.

Elvis Pressley was called the King of Rock 'N' Roll because of his role in establishing that genre as a dominant musical (some would argue the use of this term) force from the middle 1950s onward. Historically, thousands have held that title as the occupier of the seat of the ultimate head of government in their society. The kingship of Jesus is like no other kingship and the Kingdom of God is like no other kingdom. He is king in the image of the Good Shepherd who watches over his flock and lays down his life for them, but takes up his life again establishing an eternal kingdom in his love. His kingdom is one of love and service; a loyal subject accepts this example as their responsibility. To believe that, through God's grace and mercy, we may attain a heavenly existence in the kingdom of the Christ who conquered sin and death and is the ruler of the universe has given to those, while suffering through this "mortal coil," a promise of immortality. We follow this king, in part, because he is the only one who can claim a "Divine Right."

I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.

– H. G. Wells

The king has given a command: We must love the king (God) totally and we must express that love in bestowing it on our neighbor and on ourselves. Jesus has given a simple, comprehensible, and, I would think, desirable commandment. Yet, humanity fails to live it appreciably. Elvis once lamented to his pastor that he has done all the things the pastor told him not to do and has not done those things that the pastor told him to do. The causes of this inadequacy are many, but perhaps a desire to make of ourselves "small case" gods distort the morality that would demand that we see one another as brothers and sisters and treat one another accordingly. Then, there is the Prince of this World – Satan. There is an old saying, "The Devil never goes where he is not invited." No matter what image we have of the presence of evil in this world, it is a very powerful and influential presence. We wrestle with our freedom in struggling to choose the good over the bad. Pathetic are our variableness and our shallow thinking when it comes to moral decision making. How quickly people would follow the ways of the kings of this earth rather than the King of Heaven. Disheartening it is to see how overwhelming the blind passions within a person can become. A person will rail against the injustices they witness around them, yet resort to the same unjust acts when it is to their benefit. Ignorance about where true wisdom lies threatens to disfigure our highest ideals and noblest thoughts.

I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are
very wise and very beautiful;
but I never read in either of them:
"Come to me all you who labor and
find life burdensome and I will give
you rest."

– Saint Augustine

The battle lines are drawn and only the decision about whom you serve remains. We all shall serve a "king" in our hearts. Let the liturgical year end in thoughtful consideration about the kingdom we are in and the king that we follow. The eighteenth century, English clergyman, William Law said, "If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God first, it will in the end make no difference what you have chosen." When the time comes for us to appear before our King and our God, may Jesus Christ find us to be his true servants.