His Work, Our Crown

Schiavone, Giorgio; Saint Catherine; The National Gallery, London; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/saint-catherine-115115

By Kristen Gunn

Feast of All Saints

A Reading from 2 Esdras 2:42-47

42 I, Ezra, saw on Mount Zion a great multitude that I could not number, and they all were praising the Lord with songs. 43 In their midst was a young man of great stature, taller than any of the others, and on the head of each of them he placed a crown, but he was more exalted than they. And I was held spellbound. 44 Then I asked an angel, “Who are these, my lord?” 45 He answered and said to me, “These are they who have put off mortal clothing and have put on the immortal and have confessed the name of God. Now they are being crowned and receive palms.” 46 Then I said to the angel, “Who is that young man who is placing crowns on them and putting palms in their hands?” 47 He answered and said to me, “He is the Son of God, whom they confessed in the world.” So I began to praise those who had stood valiantly for the name of the Lord.


Often I have wanted to do particular things for the kingdom of God that he hasn’t actually needed me to do. I expect it’s good in a general way to have ambitions for the kingdom. But these days I’m learning to accept that the specific way in which the Lord will use my life to his glory and for the upbuilding of that body in whom we are fitted and joined together in love is ultimately a mystery. I won’t be able to cherish it in its fullness or know my final “place” in it until the day I stand before the one who holds, please God, a crown prepared for me.

This is something Scripture seems to promise, though: if by his great grace you and I should one day stand in his presence and receive a crown from his hands, we will have confessed him — will have preached him with our lives (if necessary, using words) — in this lifetime. It may not be before crowds or from the pulpits of churches (though it may be) that we confess him. But it will be him (let us pray) whom we confessed all the same.

He wants to be the Word each of our lives speak, heard by those around with ears to hear. And his promise? That this Word “shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

In a glorious way I don’t understand yet, the final result of the Word’s mission — a full Zion in full bridal array, crowned and singing — really will have taken place through the life he lived in each of us. And it will have taken every one of our “yeses” to him throughout life to be what it can fully, gloriously be.

Kristen Gunn is a lay leader and has an M.T.S. from Nashotah House Theological Seminary. In her free time she enjoys learning Latin and kayaking as much as possible.

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