Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Sunday After Ascension Day - May 20, 2012

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Sunday After Ascension Day - May 20, 2012

Ascension Day - which is May 17th - is observed as the 40th day after Easter. It commemorates Jesus Christ's ascension into heaven in the Christian Calendar. These devotionals are to help you prepare for each Sunday to come in the Christian Calendar.*

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
       let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
       righteousness and justice are the foundation of
       his throne.
Fire goes before him
       and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
      the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
      before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
      and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
     who make their boast in worthless idols;
     worship him, all you gods!
Zion hears and is glad,
     and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
     because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
     you are exalted far above all gods.
O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
     He preserves the lives of his saints;
     he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
     and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
     and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 97 (ESV)
Psalm 97 is a forceful song in celebration of the Lord’s arrival as our reigning king. Using imagery -- cloud and darkness, lightning and earthquakes, fire on a mountaintop -- reminiscent of God’s inhabiting of Mount Sinai, the psalmist speaks of creation’s response to the presence of the King. Idolaters turn away, people see his glory, and the holy city (Zion) rejoices and is glad. It is a picture of the awesome approach of a conquering king.

The promise of his coming exaltation is a reminder that there will be a time when what is evil will be replaced by what is good and pure, when shadows in the world will be dispelled by light, and when rival authorities will be replaced by the Lord of all. And it reminds us of that future day when everything that has ever disappointed or failed us will be replaced by a King who cannot fail.

Yet the psalm is not merely a call to wait for a time of deliverance or to be assured that morning will come after a long night. It is a confident celebration that the light has already been sown (“Light is sown for the righteous”) and that rejoicing and celebration has begun because the Lord is already ascended and seated on His throne as our glorious king. This is not a psalm that simply anticipates a future day of celebration; rather, it revels in the present reality of God’s universal exaltation. This last week of the Easter season, we celebrate the ascension of Jesus to the Father, the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit, and our call to be witnesses to our resurrected King. He is our risen and triumphant king!
John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Collect** from The Book of Common Prayer

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