“Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king.”
Those words are uttered by Boromir, eldest son to the Steward of Gondor, just after he discovered the true identity of Aragorn as the rightful heir to the thrones of the divided kingdoms Arnor and Gondor in The Fellowship of the Ring. His statement is partly true. At this time, Gondor has no king.
Instead, Boromir’s father, Denethor, occupies the seat of power as the Steward of Gondor. For centuries, the Stewards have served as the acting rulers in the place of the bloodline of Gondor’s royalty. The kingdom has been that way longer than anyone can remember, and its people have come to believe that no true heir to the throne of Gondor even exists. So technically, Gondor has no king.
But the other part of Boromir’s statement is far from correct. Gondor desperately needs its king. In the centuries that the Stewards have ruled over Gondor, the kingdom has turned to disarray. The Stewards have grown corrupt with the allure of power and the stains of greed. Denethor himself has become so self-seeking that he is blind to the implosion of the kingdom around him.
And as tends to be the case with all leaders, Denethor’s character bleeds into his people. The kingdom has grown as corrupt as its head. Darkness crept into the once honorable and proud kingdom of Gondor, not by attacking its fortified gates, but by sneaking into its people’s exposed hearts. And a deeply rooted darkness it became.
But that darkness, great as it may be, is not complete. There is still light in the people of Gondor. Good still fights and claws its way to the surface in the lives of a few of Gondor’s people. And those people long for the return of their king. They pray for a day when he will ride into the city of Minas Tirith and reclaim the throne that is rightfully his. They know that something is amiss in their land, and they hope for the day that the wrong will be righted. They long for all things to be made new.
Their situation is not much different from ours. We live in a world where an imposter sits upon the throne. And in the King’s absence, that imposter has ruined this land. In his greed and avarice, darkness has crept steadily into every corner of our lives, encompassing what was once a good and proud people and turning us into reflections of himself.
In his reign, the imposter has severely perverted a world that was good. The light of man’s innocence has long set beyond the dusk in the distant west and darkness now reigns throughout our land. We now live in that seemingly perpetual darkness, constantly in fear of what new and unknown depths of depravity we can create for ourselves in the dark. We hear stories of men walking into movie theatres and opening fire on innocent people. We see reports of others gunning down unsuspecting shoppers in a busy mall. We tearfully mourn over the news of a deranged gunman heartlessly slaughtering helpless children in an elementary school. And then we are disgusted by the pharisaical response of hate groups ‘explaining’ each of these tragedies.
These horrible acts pluck violently at the emotional strings of our hearts, enraging us at the injustices this great darkness births from within itself. But these tragedies do far more. They also remind us. They scream at the top of their lungs in our pitiful, distracted faces, trying to rip our attention away from our trinkets. They harshly return us to the truth that our momentary entertainment with selfish pleasure is not our chief end. They forcefully bring back to the forefront of our reality an awareness that this world is missing its true King. They remind us that the imposter sits on a throne he cannot claim. He is not the King. And oh, how we desperately need THE King to return and set this cruel world right again!
Our world is incredibly bleak. The darkness is deep, and it is spreading. We hear more and more of senseless acts of violence, murder, and hate. We try to understand, but we can’t, because they are just that: senseless. And in those moments when the darkness seems to be at its worst, we are reminded of hope. Though the darkness long overtook the sun in its westward retreat, we know that the night is only for a time. The dawn is coming, and one day we will fix our eyes on the darkness of the east and see in it a penetrating light.
So in that all-encompassing, ever-pressing darkness, we cling desperately to the one constant point of reference we know to be fixed and true: our hope. During this holiday season, we celebrate the weeks of Advent, a time where we remember the hope associated with Christmas. We look to Christmas to remind us of the true King coming to earth almost two thousand years ago. We also look to Christmas to remind us that the true King will one day come again. And there we find our hope.
In Gondor, despite Aragorn’s obvious prowess on the battlefield, the people of Gondor didn’t recognize him for who he truly was until he healed the Steward’s son. They knew that the true king would come not just as a great military power, but as a healer of all that has gone awry. Our Healer will do the same. The King will return. And He will bring with Him the restoration of all things. He alone makes all things new, all things right.
Gondor has no king. But Gondor desperately needs its king to return and make all things right.
We too long for the return of the King. Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien