Preparing: O King of the Nations


We continue our series reflecting on the O Antiphons, the prayers for the seven days before Christmas.

O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations)

O King of the nations, you alone can fulfill our desires: cornerstone, binding all together: come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust of the earth.
Come, Lord Jesus.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9.6-7)

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2.2-4)

What does it mean for Christ to be King of the Nations? Not just king in our hearts, though that is important. Not in the sense of having Christian Governments (whatever that means). What would it look like if we, the body of Christ, believed and lived as if our citizenship was in this kingdom of God that is so eloquently described by the prophet? Jesus lived his life as if he was living in the kingdom of God here and now. In many ways, the early church described in the book of Acts tried to do the same. Of course, neither the gospels nor Acts give us much hope that this way of life will lead toward the kind of success our culture values, but might it lead to a different kind of success? The kind where justice and righteousness reign, where the implements of violence are turned into implements of care, where we live in peace? It’s hard to imagine, and the argument always is that if you turn your sword into a plow, someone who didn’t will come along and kill you with their sword (and take your plow). Does that mean we should strive for this, and pray for this, and pray to be made into instruments of God’s reign, anyway?

Can you imagine a world in which Christ is King of the Nations? What would that be like, and how can we work toward that day?


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