Although the Baptist tribe of which I am a part tends not to make much of it, today is Ascension Day: the day falling 40 days after Easter when Christians down through the ages have reflected on the departure of the resurrected Jesus and his enthronement at the right hand of the Father. Not surprisingly, therefore, the readings from today’s Daily Office invite us to honor the Lord as King. Psalm 47 is a good example…
God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise. (Psalm 47:5-7)
Now I’d guess that all of us who are taking a moment to mess with this blog have “enthroned Jesus” as the King of our hearts. We trust Him. We want to honor Him. And therefore, we do make an effort (albeit a humble one, at times) to live in obedience to His kingly rule. However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if — in our most honest moments —we struggle with what His kingship means. Especially in a week like this one, in which we are still coming to grips with the loss of life in a recent terrorist bombing, the world we see before us often looks like a rather shabby kingdom.
But here’s where it’s so important to remember that the King and the Kingdom that command our loyalty as Christ followers express their reign in ways that are radically different from most of the kingdoms to which we’re accustomed. In our King’s Kingdom, greatness is defined by servanthood; the meek and the humble are exalted rather than the movers and the shakers; and power is expressed not through shows of force – but through the sacrifice of self-giving love.
Perhaps that’s why one of the other readings for today highlights the very unusual approach to “kingdom management” that our King has taken:
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. (Hebrews 2:10)
Sadly, we do inhabit a kingdom in which so many things appear to be broken. But our King, rather than remaining comfortable and aloof in a royal castle, condescends to share our suffering and our brokenness with us. In this way, He provides healing and He offers hope – that one day – the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He will reign forever.
May the King reign in us today. And because of the way that we love and serve others, may His Kingdom come wherever we go.
Today’s Bonus Thought:
In writing this reflection, I’ve been remembering a song titled “How Many Kings” that is sung by the Christian band “Downhere.” Although it’s a Christmas song, it’s chorus fits well, I think, with these Ascension musings:
How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only One did that for me
If you’d like to check out the tune, here’s a link: