My first response to the news about the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas was anger. Again, Lord?! Enough! I quoted Habakkuk in my call to prayer last week, and I join in his prophetic lament yet again today:
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
I write this Pastor’s Corner on Wednesday, May 25th. In just a few hours we will gather at our new building on Hoadly Road to inscribe Scriptures and prayers on the sanctuary floor. We rightly have called this building our Mission Outpost. Today, however, Jesus’ stinging rebuke as he “cleansed” the temple is ringing in my hears: “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Luke 21:13; Isaiah 56:7)! Before we take pens in hands, therefore, we will join together in a liturgy of lament and intercession. This is an essential part of our work as the Body of Christ in Northern Virginia.
Most of you will read these words tomorrow, Thursday, May 26th. In our liturgical calendar, that is also Ascension Day, when we remember the truth of what we proclaim in our creeds: Jesus “ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right of the Father.” On Sunday, I’ll point out two essential understandings that accompany this truth. The first is that Jesus is our reigning King, and his authority extends into every crevice of creation, from Uvalde to Uzbekistan (Hebrews 2:5-9).
The second understanding is that one primary way in which Jesus exercises his authority is in intercession. “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34). When we pray in the name of Jesus for the desperate needs of our world, we are joining with Christ’s intercession at the right hand of the Father. Will not God the Father answer the prayer of God the Son, even as God the Holy Spirit groans in agreement (Romans 8:26-27)? This is essential, powerful work.
A third understanding is that Jesus will not always remain seated. A time is coming—and may it come soon!—when the King will rise from his throne and once again descend with a shout to bring an end to evil (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). I’ve been singing these words by Andrew Peterson throughout the day:
If a thief had come to plunder When the children were alone If he ravaged every daughter And murdered every son Would not the Father see this? Would not his anger burn? Would he not repay the tyrant In the day of his return? Await, await the day of his return ‘Cause he will rise up in the end He will rise up in the end I know you need a Savior He's patient in his anger But he will rise up in the end
In the days following what horribly is no longer an uncommon tragedy, there will be many calls to action. I yearn to rise up and join in the action, but I know that together we must first fall to our knees in intercession. And my prayer will indeed be to ask King Jesus to rise up.
Please join with me in this essential work.
Your Pastor in the Resurrected and Ascended Christ,
P.S. At Thursday’s 8pm Compline service, we will again pray the liturgy of lament and intercession. Join us via Zoom at https://us06web.zoom.us/j/84263117266.