30th November 2020

We were told this story by Finn Wagle, then Bishop of Trondheim in Norway, while we ate lunch on his verandah steps.

Way up north in his huge diocese was a village (population 44) whose church was to celebrate its centenary – no great age for Norwegian churches. They decided to invite the King. Finn told them that the King would be too busy. It was a long way from Oslo etc, but they insisted.

The news came; the King was coming. We have to prepare! Now according to protocol Finn the bishop must go, so too the Rural Dean. The military commander of the district must go. The chair of the district council must go with the local councillor plus all the others officials who would want to go.

And then there will be refreshments. Which village family’s inherited embroidered tablecloth for the King’s table? Whose best coffee cups? Whose silver coffee pot? Whose special celebration cake?

But most important – which of the village people should be presented to the King?

In the end Finn decreed that the whole village be lined up by age from the youngest to the oldest and he would present them all. This was done and Finn got to the last and oldest and presented him. He made the small required bow and announced loudly and in a grumpy voice, “I’ve waited all my life to meet my King.” The King, somewhat non-plussed, said, “Well, err, I’m here now”.

We pray in Advent for the coming of the Lord. Do we mean it? Would we be ready?

Margaret Clements