By now, you’ve heard Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton is the fiancée of Prince William of Wales. In 1987, her parents, Michael and Carole Middleton founded Party Pieces, a mail-order company that sells party supplies and decorations. They have since become millionaires.
Let me change around the story. What if Kate did not have parents who are millionaires? What if she was a pauper, a peasant girl? What if Prince William just happened to come upon her and fell madly in love with her, in spite of her poverty? How would he have captured the heart of a peasant girl?
In their book “The Sacred Romance” (it’s not a love story between a man and a woman but between God and us) Brent Hodges and John Eldridge tell a figurative story of a king, centuries ago, who would deal with the same challenge.
Permit me to modify their story.
In the story, the king, riding alone in the forest, comes across a poor, peasant girl living in a thatched roof hut. She is beautiful, yet simple. She is charming and yet humble. The king only stopped by her simple home for a drink of water. Yet in those brief moments, she stole his heart.
As he rides off from this encounter, he has found true love. No other woman in his kingdom had stolen his heart in the way she has. What would he do? How would he win her over?
He assembled his wisest counselors and sought their wisdom.
The first advisor suggested he send his royal ambassador stating the king would like her hand in marriage. But what if she said, “No,” the king asked. What if she declines his marriage proposal?
What if she said she was totally unworthy, a woman of no means, marrying the king of this great kingdom?
The king continued to struggle when the second advisor came up with a plan. He suggested the king send a military force – 100 soldiers. In addition, he would send men with banners and others with trumpets. They would arrive at her simple hut with much fanfare. The king would dismount his stallion, knock on her door and ask for her hand in marriage. But what if she were frightened from all the attention? What if she stayed inside her home and chose not to come out?
The king found himself deeply troubled. What could he do to win the hand of this woman who had stolen his heart? Finally, his third advisor had a solution. He explained to the king that he would have to become just like the woman – a pauper. He would have to lay aside his kingship and dress just like her – a peasant. He would arrive at her home as a simple man, not the king. Then and only then would he know she had responded to the purity of his love for her and not his lofty status.
That story is symbolic of the Christmas story: How would God win our hearts? He would have to become just like us – to be born as we are born, to live and work as we would live and work, to become one of us, laying aside his divinity to know we had responded to the purity of his love.
This Christmas, I invite you to enter into a relationship with the one whom we call the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one who laid aside His divinity to become one of us.
Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission and a regular South Charlotte Weekly columnist. He is available to speak to your group. Call 704-334-4635 ext. 213 to schedule him.