This past week saw the commemoration of the death of Michael Jackson – and the recurring phrase “The King is dead” has dominated the media. Millions of people around the world were saddened by the death of “the King of Pop”. Many attended his memorial, and many more watched it on television. And mixed up in this was some amazing hyperbole, such as “he is the greatest entertainer this world has ever seen” (Really? In all the years of the existence of this world?).
This has been said before of others: Frank Sinatra: CNN wrote that “Sinatra was a master craftsman and ranked as one of the most influential singers in this country's history”. Elvis Presley is remembered as the King of Rock and Roll and the “greatest performer of all time”. And there are others. Charlie Chaplin surely must be considered one of the greatest entertainers ever . He was not only a great movie actor but also a comedian, musician, writer, director, mime and acrobat. And then there is “The Master” - Noel Coward – who was a playwrite, director, actor, writer, singer, comedian. And what of Judy Garland: she certainly dominated the movies as one of MGM's most popular stars ever. So the passing parade of “superstars”....each to briefly shine and then to fade.
Perhaps the truth we need to remember is found in Job 20:6 “They may grow great, towering to the sky, so great that their heads reach the clouds, but they will be blown away like dust. Those who used to know them will wonder where they have gone.” This is useful for us when we are tempted think that someone irreplaceable is gone. Because God will raise up new people in our lives. It is useful for us when we are tempted to overvalue our own importance. Because we are only what we are through the grace of God. And it is useful for us to be reminded that all of life is in God’s hands…. We are born, we live, and we die…. All of it in the care of God.
*This traditional proclamation is made following the death of the King. It was translated from the French “Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi!", which was first declared upon the coronation of Charles VII following the death of his father Charles VI in 1422