A dear friend who was a Presbyterian pastor in a church in the town where I also served once preached a sermon just after Christmas titled, “What Do You Do When The Angels Are Gone?” It was his way of asking after the wonder of the season wanes, what do we do then?
I feel similar feelings right now in the aftermath of Easter. We had a grand Easter Sunday. About 800 of us gathered in three services to hear the resurrection story once more. The music (especially the “Hallelujah Chorus”) was sublime. Those who work mostly in the shadows to help our sanctuary look good outdid themselves—everything was so beautiful. It’s hard to imagine a better day.
And then there is the aftermath. Now that the wonder of the day has passed, what do we do now? You see, the trick about Easter is that we proclaim Jesus as Lord of All on that day and He is. And on that day it isn’t hard to embrace. But as we journey further and further from the empty tomb, the question we must confront is this: “Why does it seem that nothing has changed?”
If Jesus really is Lord, why are we in a dangerous standoff with North Korea? Why are we dropping 21,000-pound bombs on Syria? Why are there riots in Berkeley, CA? Why haven’t we devoted every spare penny to eradicate cancer? To feed the world’s hungry?
The catalogue of human hurt is pretty thick and I would think you’d be grateful to me for not going through the entire thing in this blog. The point is, it might be hard to continue to proclaim Jesus Is Lord when the world keeps on doing pretty much the same things, making the same mistakes, acting for all intents and purposes as if Jesus Is NOT Lord of All.
For those of us who believe, this is precisely where the rubber meets the road. We who believe hold in tension a Kingdom that we have been commanded by our Lord to build right here and now, and a Kingdom that is so painfully, obviously NOT YET.
I remember vividly as a teenager going to watch the premier of “Jesus Christ, Superstar.” It was really something—pretty controversial in its day, too. The world had never seen a rock opera, much less one about a subject so personal as Jesus. One of the songs was sung by Judas and was titled, “Too Much Heaven On Their Minds.” It’s a terrific song and pointed out that tension I mentioned earlier.
For the Judas character in the opera, the only thing that mattered was the present Kingdom—the one to be built NOW. He was concerned that other believers wandered around dreamily with “too much heaven on their minds.” The opera suggests that’s why Judas betrayed Jesus—because Jesus wouldn’t side with Judas.
Our present task as followers is to continue and hold those two realities and to hold the tension that exists between them. Yes, we know our Christ desires us to partner with Him to build God’s Kingdom here and now. At the same time, we also know that Kingdom building takes time and maybe none of us will be around to see it—so having Heaven on our minds isn’t a bad thing—maybe it is precisely the thing that motivates us, convicts us, to get busy with the Kingdom-Building.
Jesus Is Lord