Coronavirus – or to translate the name into English, ‘crownvirus’. So called because of the shape of those famous spikes with which the virus attacks human cells. But as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, the title makes me stop and wonder. Who is really in charge – who is the king? Certainly not we human beings at the moment: that supremacy over creation which we take for granted has been rudely and pretty successfully challenged by a tiny piece of genetic material. Biologists disagree about whether they’re really alive, but whether or not, they’ve changed all our lives immeasurably, and not for the better. Some of us have suffered from COVID19 ourselves, and some of us have been bereaved of friends or family. I don’t think many of us feel much like monarchs of creation right now.
But – of course – we Christians don’t think of us as being monarchs anyway, at least in theory. We know that it is God who reigns over all things not us. A lot of the time we don’t really act on that belief, but it’s there. And now? What effect does the coronavirus have? It could drive us in two very different directions.
Christ the king is the one in whom we can put our trust – which means we don’t need to measure our future by the success of vaccines (however much we hope they will work as well as promised). We are secure at a much deeper level because the most fundamental battle has already been fought and won. Only Christ wears the crown, not a virus nor human beings nor anything else in all creation – all is subject to his just and gentle rule.
The first option is to hand over the crown to the virus, and then fight to get it back. OK, for now all we can do is to remain spaced out and locked down, but a vaccine is coming and then we’ll be back on top. And that keeps God out of the story. The second option is to think differently about the story as a whole.
If Christ really is the King, we’re offered a different perspective – or a renewed one. We’re offered the chance to think again about all we’ve been going through, not as a struggle for the crown of creation between humanity and a virus, but in the light of a God whose rule over creation is shown on a cross.
The kingship of Christ is the opposite of human rule, because it is expressed completely through love, through service. Christ our king was incarnate among us, taking the form of a servant, in order to lead us back away from our crowning of ourselves as lords of creation. He invites us to recognise his kingship, and to find our place again in creation as the stewards of all God has made, the sons and daughters of our creator God.