Blessed Ascension Day!
It’s been 40 days since Christ overcame death on Easter morning. Scripture tells us that it was on this day that he ascended into the presence of his father and sat down at his right hand. There are all sorts of important things to say about that amazing event, but I hope you remember one in particular. Today is about who you truly are as a Son of Adam and Daughter of Eve.
God created men and women to rule over creation in his stead. That is what the Kingdom of God means: creation ruled by God through people. But we never matured into the sort of creature that could do that faithfully. In fact we went the other way. The baby who was born of the Virgin Mary was God’s way of making sure that we would share in the glorious calling that we rejected.
Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men. He became what God first dreamed of when he first imagined ‘man.’ Jesus fully and faithfully reflected the god in whose image he was made.
All men and women wish to be godlike. That goes with being human. We seek to rule because that it what we were made to do, but we are idolaters. We don’t understand what God is really like. We fashion him in our own fallen image or in the image of the creatures we were created to shepherd. To be like god is to exert self-interest and violent power over others. And so men and women step on others in an attempt to fulfill our broken visions of humanity. We do this on the battlefield; but we do it at school, at home… even at church, too. Jesus knew the Father as no one else could have, and he knew that mankind had it all wrong. He offered another vision of both ‘humanity’ and ‘god.’
Fallen men- both religious and secular- threw their common vision of human glory up against his, and they killed him; or rather he lay down his life. Of course this was his greatest ‘test’ and victory- the way in which he carried the sins of his people-and their enemies- as if they were his own. To see Jesus on the cross was to see a true reflection of the God who made him. This is what it means to be truly human. This is what it means to be godly.
We know that he got it right- both the ‘God’ and ‘Man’ bit-because God himself raised Jesus from the dead. Rome and Israel gave their performance of the great play ‘humanity.’ Jesus gave his own interpretation in reply. When they were done God stood and applauded: ‘Jesus,’ he said ‘Bravo!’ He announced this by raising Jesus to the life of the Age to Come on Easter morning. Those who made their claim by putting him in the grave… well, they’re still in the grave.
God finally had the human ruler that he had wished for, and that is what today is about. Christ’s reward- his vindication- didn’t stop with the resurrection. God would give to him all that he desired for humanity. A human being would rule over creation.
According to the story of our people, the first man and woman were run out of the garden, and warrior cherubim blocked their return. Men and women cowered and fled from the angel’s flaming swords, but on this day….
…. A human- a man- walked up the stairway that leads to the throne of God. He walked past all of creation and its creatures, and they each bowed. Past buzzing insects, birds and lions- as they acknowledged their new ruler. Past storms and nebula which obeyed his commands, and he walked past the cherubim that had lorded over our first parents; they bowed, too. He walked past the archangels, and they lowered their eyes, and bent their knee. Up to the very top- until there was no one but God before him; and God gave him his seat, and all of creation- seen and unseen- fell at his feet, at the feet of their new King.
At last, a human sat on throne of the universe!
Each of you is united to this king through your baptism. What is his, is yours. That is why he and his Father did this thing: for you.
The whole world tells you that you ought to be ‘this or that’. It tells you that true human flourishing looks like the gangstas on videos, or the business man who neglects his family or the poor in the pursuit of money, or some shallow yahoo who is famous for simply being famous. Your baptism tells you that you are someone else.
Rachael, Bekah, Hannah, Naomi and Essie, you are each a Princess.
Tommy, you are a Prince.
Royalty, of the house of David!
That’s not pretend. That’s not sweet ‘dad stuff. That’s who you are. Be who you are- whom God declared you to be in your baptism. This is what Xian faith is about. You are royalty in training.
So, congratulations. For through your older brother, this is your coronation day, too. Rule your part of creation well! One day, all of Christ’s New Creation will be yours.