Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Chronicles of Keimathea, Part IV - The Banquet Table of the King

The Keimathea Chronicles - a Christian Worldview parable - Part IV

Redemption - Glorification: The Banquet Table of the King

The question, at the end of the evening, is what we will do in the midst of the suffering and evil in our lives.  The citizens of Keimathea faced the same question—how would they respond to King Ma’alekei’s invitation in the corrupted kingdom they experienced?
One day, the good and wise king entered a small village on the fringes of the realm—far from the palace, and very close to the outer darkness.  Three young women—Alyssa, Karin, and Maya—emerged and talked with the king.  Ma’alekei gave them food, money, clothing, and some extravagant silk fabrics out of his royal bounty.  He re-affirmed his eternal love for the three girls, and invited them to come and join the banquet at the castle in the heart of the kingdom.  The three women, awe-struck, listened silently as the King talked. 

After Ma’alekei left, Alyssa, Karin, and Maya looked at one another with shocked expressions on their faces.  Karin immediately ran to her hut, and soon re-emerged wearing a small backpack, a hat, and hiking shoes.  King Ma’alekei’s silk scarf was woven through her flowing blond hair.  She said to Alyssa and Maya, “Well—aren’t you going to get ready to go?”
“Go where?” Maya asked.
“To the castle, of course!” Karin responded.  “I’m going to join the King’s banquet table in the palace.  I can’t believe he would take peasants like us.  Are you coming?”
Alyssa pondered the question silently, withdrawn.  It was surprising that a good and wise King would seek after dirty, uneducated peasant women like the three friends.  Obviously Ma’alekei didn’t know that Karin had been with three different husbands over the past ten years.  Surely if he knew that, he would not have invited her to the banquet table.  Alyssa, on the other hand, had been faithful to her husband Valaric since their marriage eight years ago—even though her husband was a no-good drunkard and deadbeat.  Alyssa was raising their children on her own—a hardship that someone like Karin could not possibly understand.  If Ma’alekei was such a good and wise king, if he was the rightful ruler of the realm, then why hadn’t he done something about her situation?  Why hadn’t Ma’alekei punished Valaric for his unfaithfulness, his drunkenness, his abuse?  Why hadn’t Ma’alekei rescued Alyssa from her painful situation?  Did he think he could just waltz into town now, invite her to some royal banquet, and pretend that everything was okay, that all would be fine?  What kind of king did Ma’alekei think he was?  No—there was no way that Alyssa was going to take this so-called king up on his so-called banquet table.  It was most likely a false hope, a false promise.  Probably the fellow just wanted to lure her into some brain-washing cult and take all of her money, rob her of her freedom.  Alyssa spoke up:
“No, Karin,” she retorted sharply.  “I want nothing to do with this fairy tale, this fantasy that you are about to waste your life with.  I’d rather keep grounded, face the facts of our nasty kingdom, and live the life that’s set before me.  You go.  I’ll be here when you come back crying.”
Maya looked at Alyssa, surprised—she had never heard her friend so tart and short-tempered.  Maya had been thinking things over too.  There had been other men who had come to their village before, claiming to know the path to a fuller life.  She remembered one in particular—a handsome, vibrant, intelligent young man named Joronae, who assured her that following him, supporting him as sovereign would bring peace and prosperity to their village.  Maya and several others had rallied around Joronae, joining his entourage, and traveling to other villages in the countryside.  Eventually, however, it became clear that Joronae was interested only in receiving adulation from peasants like Maya—he was not bringing peace to the country, nor prosperity to his followers.  Disillusioned, Maya had returned home—but she was no longer welcomed by her parents, who had seen Joronae for the fraud he truly was, and had retained their allegiance (in name, anyway) to King Ma’alekei.  Now that very King had come!  Maya had seen him with her own eyes!  Yet she remembered her parents.  They had claimed allegiance to Ma’alekei, but died without ever seeing the king.  In fact, they died quite miserable, poor deaths—much like the lives they had lived.  And they had never forgiven Maya for her dalliance with Joronae, even though Maya had cried tears of sorrow and repentance.  Maya recalled her father’s steely, unyielding glance, his firm rejection of his own daughter.  She set her jaw and looked at Karin.
“I could never go the banquet table of the one whose followers disowned me, Karin,” Maya said softly.  “Ma’alekei might have been my parents’ King, but he’s not mine.”
Karin glanced from one friend to the other, and tears came to her eyes.  How could they deny the reality of the one who had just appeared among them?  Ma’alekei was there, flesh and blood, as plain as day for all to see!  He had spoken with them; he had even given them tangible gifts demonstrating his royal love and concern.  Karin knew that Alyssa’s lot in life had been hard—Valaric was a poor husband, a despicable man, and had mistreated Alyssa terribly.  But how was Ma’alekei responsible for that?  Karin had been broken-hearted when Maya’s parents disowned her.  While Karin herself had never even heard of Ma’alekei at that point in her life, she had found it strange that parents would push their own children away simply for choosing a different leader to support.  Karin had helped Maya get re-established in the community, opening her home to her dear friend after her second husband left for greener pastures.  What Karin now could not understand was why Maya blamed Ma’alekei for her parent’s mistreatment of her—it’s not as if it was the King himself who had shunned Maya!
Karin could not understand her friends’ responses to the king’s invitation.  Nor could she fully grasp the King’s invitation itself.  Why would the King invite her to the banquet table?  Did he not know her past?  Didn’t he know who all she had been with?  Didn’t he know how she paid her bills and supported her family?  No—she realized immediately, the king did know all about her.  She could tell when he looked her in the eyes.  There was a piercing recognition—as if Ma’alekei saw straight through Karin’s eyes and directly into her soul.  He knew her history, all right; he knew her character.  In fact, she could have sworn, in that moment their eyes locked, that he even knew her future.  But, and this was the striking thing, she thought—despite the fact that King Ma’alekei knew all about her, he loved her nonetheless.  He loved her enough to invite her to his banquet table.  He loved her enough to welcome her into his castle—out of her village, out of her peasantry, out of her bondage, and into the free abundance of the royal palace.

Whatever choices her friends would make, Karin realized, there was only one way forward for her—it was on to Keimathea Castle, to seek the banquet table of King Ma’alekei.

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