Duke is full of acronyms. I stumbled my first year trying to get them all right, but now I can sling them around with the best of them. I’ve even made up a few fake ones and have watched as people simply nod their heads, assuming that the acronym I’ve made up actually has some meaning. There was a time I even tried to make DUKE an acronym – don’t ask – it was a failed and well mocked attempt! Acronyms help us to compact a lot into a little, and nowhere is that more evident than in one of the earliest acronyms in recorded history.
INRI. These are the letters that rest above Jesus’ head on the vertical beam of the cross in almost every rendering of the crucifixion. It was the Roman soldiers’ way of saying a lot in a little. But given that it is a Latin acronym, some miss the meaning of this most well-known acronym in Christian history. Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The soldiers were mocking our Lord even to his death, placing a placard above his head with a title that they no sooner believed than did those who sentenced him to that cruel fate. And yet, their hung the King of Kings on the ultimate throne that would stand forever as the sign of a rule that would transform humanity and all of creation. That was quite the miscue from a band of soldiers simply intent on poking fun.
What would be the acronym that could mark our lives? What would be the small sign that could be hung around our necks to indicate the sum total of our lives? So many of us wear a crucifix around our necks. Is this the small sign that reflects a greater reality of who we really are and what we really believe? Are we comfortable being mocked when known as believers in this Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews? As we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, may we find many ways to compact into small ways the enormity of what it means to be a follower of this King. And may those actions give real meaning to the jewelry around our necks such that on our tombstone a sign of the cross will be a meaningful sign of whose kingdom we were a part in this life and the next.
Have a great week and know that you are always welcome in my office, or to stop me on campus.
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