Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Etiquette of meeting the monarch

There is an HBO series called John Adams which I believe to be one of the best historical treatments of one of our Founding Fathers, John Adams. That's the title, and there is a scene I believe to be fraught with just as much tension as any thriller, and just as much import as any broadcast news flash. The moment was Adams' torment at how to behave at his upcoming meeting with King George, whom the newly formed United States had vanquished in the Revolutionary War. Now Adams, no longer a royal subject, as a diplomat was was preparing to meet the King.

Wrapped into the wrinkle of defining their new relationship, was also the knowledge that Adams, originally a farmer from Quincy Massachusetts, was about to meet royalty, He lacked the proper etiquette. How does one show deep respect to someone in high authority? Meeting royalty was a minefield of rules and prescribed behaviors, of which Adams knew nothing. Quick lessons ensued.

Source
There is a particular etiquette rule that when one's meeting with royalty is concluded, one does not turn away from the King or Queen, presenting one's back. One bows and backs away while looking at the monarch. Here, we see John Adams in the HBO depiction of the moment when he left King George III, clumsily backing away, even into the door, lol:

The encounter is here in video clip and if you want to see just the backing away part it begins at 6:47. Meeting a Monarch is not something most of the world's population ever does.

If you search for 'Royal Etiquette' there will be a plethora of search results. As marks of respect, we do go to great lengths to demonstrate our acknowledgement to the sovereign due to his position.

So why do we turn our back to King Jesus?

I'm speaking metaphorically of course.

He is KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, and yet we do not meet with Him in His Word. We do not address Him in prayer. We turn our back to Him when times are good and we're all too flippant when times are bad.

I know that the scripture at Hebrews 4:16 says,

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

And that the scripture at Ephesians 3:12 says,

In Him and through faith in Him we may enter God's presence with boldness and confidence.

Most rulers in the Middle East were unapproachable at any time except by their highest advisers. Even Queen Esther risked death when meeting with her husband the King without prior consent. The same is true even now. Those verses are a reminder that we may approach Jesus our King with confidence in His mercy and His love. The verse do not mean however that we approach Him casually. He is still holy and majestic in His Person, and though we may call him the familiar term 'Daddy' (Abba, Mark 14:36), He is still King.

We go to great lengths learning etiquette to prepare for a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II or King Abdullah II of Jordan, but we turn our backs on and relegate Jesus to a corner. Why? Because, football. Or, we're tired. Or, we're mad that we didn't receive the prayer answer we wanted so we pout. Or we forget His grace and mercy and hide from Him when we committed a sin. In other words, lack of trust and lack of honor.

I'm preaching to myself as much as anyone.

Source,  credit: Nicolas de Largillierre
I never want to take my Lord for granted. I never want to metaphorically turn my back to Him, but always look full in His face. On earth, because I'm here and He's there, it means earnest prayer, study of His word, and congregational worship. In heaven it will mean literally being able to look Him in the face. We will never turn our backs on Him because our sin nature will be gone and we will be fully glorified. Sin and selfishness won't interfere with our meetings. We will also have the permanent reminder of His glory shining all the time. (Revelation 21:23). The biggest benefit to us then will be meeting him in person, always having personal access to the longest reigning monarch and the highest ranking king in the universe, for all eternity.

Meanwhile, if you were invited to tea with the Queen, think of the lengths to which you would go to prepare for such an august privilege. Do that, and a thousand things more to prepare your heart and mind to meet the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, Jesus the Christ.



2 comments :

  1. I had a pastor, now with the Lord, who was a Th.D., from New Orleans Theological Seminary. He was such a man of God, sensitive always to the Holy Spirit. He was a tremendous pastoral scholar and college professor.

    But one thing he could not do because of his sensitivity to the Majesty of God the Father. With respect to Mark 14:36, he could NOT bring himself to use the word Daddy when referring to the paternal relationship between Him, the Lord God, and us. He always spoke of Abba-Father. "We have the privilege of figuratively sitting on the knee of God and call him 'Abba-Father'," he would often say.

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