(Just an aside: when I was learning to play the French Horn as a boy, I was given the music of this hymn "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide" without the words. I played it for weeks not knowing what it was. It was not until the day of a competition, that I discovered that I was playing a well known hymn and that the place where we were competing was a Church. quickly learning the words, with some help from my dad, it emboldening me and enabled me to compete to my utmost. Now we uphold the cross for others to see that they might come and follow too.)
This week we recall that the kingdom is coming, in all of its fullness, with all of the pomp and pageantry, the power and glory and all the quietness of a thief in the night.
This week we are reminded of the events that now seem so long ago... and it was only holy week and Eastertide. We are reminded of how he was arrested and tried repeatedly and by different judges. All of them demanded truth and then, if they got an answer, rejected it as impossible, preposterous and an outright blasphemous lie.
Pilate gave Jesus one last chance to recant; one last opportunity to save himself and to act like one of us. He had chances to save his own skin and to walk away free but he did not take. And so Jesus was taken and crucified. He died being proclaimed as a king.
I was talking with a friend this past week. We have both been standing in spots where kings of this earth, have been taken and executed by the people. In my friend’s case it was the Jerusalem Room at Westminster Abbey, where the King James Bible was authorized and where King Henry IV was killed. In my own case it was a grand meeting room in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg where Tzar Nicholas II and his family were arrested and were taken from to be executed elsewhere. I have stood where the Tsar stood and I have stood at his tomb in Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral. None of it is as powerful as recalling what happened that last night, as Jesus is betrayed, arrested, beaten and eventually dying.
I have never been to the places where he lived... where he preached and he healed. I have never seen the hill where he died. Yet, I now his life, his presence and his healing in my own life in this moment...and in this moment, etc... Jesus is more real to me now that any king or Queen, any prince, ruler power or even Bishop. Thus maybe it should be recognized that there really is power in the blood of the king. We need to know that we have failed and fallen and that we need his strength and mercy to help us stand up again.
There is a line in the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” that has stayed with me and I come back to it now and again. The scene is Jesus has fallen under the weight of everything he is doing and going through and one of the soldiers sarcastically asks him, “Can you get up your Majesty?” the soldier clearly wasn’t aware of the power that there is in the blood of the king. He wasn’t aware of what God was accomplishing in Christ for him and the rest of the world. And he was not aware of what God could do to him in his anger over the execution of his Son. It is why Jesus prayed, “Adda, forgive. They don’t know what they are doing.” It wasn’t the force of the soldiers; neither was it a fear of the critics and the scoffers nor the strength of the nails that kept Jesus on the cross. It was our need for love grace and mercy of God that had him remain there.
So then the next time you pray “Our Father in heaven,” remember that you are praying for his kingdom not yours and for his will to be done in you and not yours in the world. That is a kingdom worth coming into.