6/2: Ascent, Stillness, and Power

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7 Easter, June 2

Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97
Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
John 17:20-26

Explaining and defining the three persons of the Trinity while asserting with equal force the one substance of divinity, and then moving on to the ministry of the divine persons in the economy of salvation would likely, even with the economy of a few words, induce my imagined congregation into a trance-like sleep. But behold. The king of glory has exalted his son, and by the strength of the Holy Spirit, has exalted us (Collect of the Day).

An image is something to see deeply. The Father exalts the Son. Jesus is lifted up, and by the Spirit of Jesus in us, we are lifted up in union with him. See it. See it with the eyes of faith and with the longing of hope and urging of love.

A revered passage from St. Paul will help: “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

We are rising. We rise with the morning sun. We lift our hands to heaven. We offer prayers upward. We are moving Godward, and while sin may impede us, we have the abounding grace of Christ, who forgives and renews and refreshes our upward ascent. “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2). Lift up your hearts! We lift them to the Lord!

We may always go up to God. “I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open” (Rev. 4:1). We may, however, feel weighted down, at times and seasons, not by sin, but by the obligations of love or the burdens of sorrow from which there is no easy escape. We may also have love and joy in the flesh and blood of a human family and friendships to which we are gladly bound. Formed of the earth, we should love the earth, its creatures, its people, all the substance of earth and heaven. Imagine now that you are sitting still, or standing still, or simply remaining true to the place of your vocation.

Praying to the Father, Jesus says, “The glory that you have given me I have given them. … I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one” (John 17:22-23). This is not an image of ascent, but rather of an epicenter from which the presence of God radiates outward. The Father is the still point at center. The Son is, in a sense, a concentric circle around the Father, and we a circle around the Son. By grace, we have entered the very presence of God.

This is a present consolation and present power. Drafting the story of Paul and Silas to our purpose, picture the Father now not as stillness, but as the epicenter of an earthquake, the Son as concentric shock waves that rattle the foundations of the old humanity, and all this power reaching us as doors that open and chains that unfasten. Imagine that where you are, whatever your burdens may be, some of which you will not escape in this life, you are still by degrees being made free.

Go up to God. Sit with God. Feel your emerging freedom.

Look It Up
Read John 17:23.

Think About It
God is with us and in us and above us.


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