5 “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
We sang the Gloria today for the last time: “Glory to God in the highest,” the song the angels sang before the Shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth. It is the last echo of Christmas. Now our eyes turn towards Easter, towards the three-day celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection, the remarkable and unexpected outcome of the story that began with the equally unexpected announcement to Mary: “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” What sounded like the heralding of a new king for Israel will crash and break to pieces against the rock of Roman power – only to be utterly transformed into a dawning reign of grace and life for all creation.
The star that has graced our sanctuary will be put away. The candelabra that spoke of the one proclaimed as light of the world will also be put away. The color will shift to purple – the color of the robe that the taunting soldiers threw over Jesus as they mocked and tortured him with a crown of thorns. Royal purple. Meant to shame Jesus. Meant to discredit him in our eyes. But we see its truth.
But today, before we begin that Journey to Jerusalem, we heard once again God declare, “This is my Son, the Beloved.” These are the words spoken at the beginning of this season when Jesus was baptized by John. They are spoken again here, not in wistfulness as a fading refrain of the season, but with confidence. The one who journeys towards the cross is the holy one of God.
And we are invited to journey to Jerusalem with him and to wait there for the wonder to come: his vindication. The breaking of the tomb. The tearing of the curtain. The harrowing of Satan’s realm. The reconciliation of heaven and earth. The dawning of the new creation.
It all awaits us as we tell again the story beginning that wondrous Thursday night when feet are washed and bread broken, when soldiers come in the dark and strip Jesus of all honor – and that Friday afternoon when the nails are pounded – and that Saturday evening when darkness turns to light, when we journey again through the waters of baptism into Christ and from death into life, and hear the great cry “Christ is risen!” And then that Sunday morning we come back together to sing then, and through the next fifty days, the Alleluias and a new song, the hymn of heaven from Revelation 5:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”