Celebrating God’s Rule—A Word for the Day of Ascension




Clap your hands, all you peoples;
    shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
    a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
    and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
    the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
    shout to God with loud songs of joy.For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,     a great king over all the earth.He subdued peoples under us,     and nations under our feet.He chose our heritage for us,     the pride of Jacob whom he loves. SelahGod has gone up with a shout,
    the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm.
    the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.Sing praises to God, sing praises;     sing praises to our King, sing praises.For God is the king of all the earth;     sing praises with a psalm.God is king over the nations;
    God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
    he is highly exalted.
    God sits on his holy throne.The princes of the peoples gather     as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God;     he is highly exalted.

****
                It is the Day of Ascension. For some this will be the day of celebration. For others it will be Sunday. The story of Ascension is told by Luke, both in the Gospel (Luke 24:44-53) and in the Book of Acts (Acts 1:1-11). According to the Book of Acts it is forty days since Jesus rose from the grave. He has been in conversation with the disciples during this period, preparing them for what is to come. But now is the time of his departure, so that he can sit at the right hand of the Father, and therefore share in the divine rule. The primary texts for this celebration come from Luke 24 and Acts 1, along with Ephesians 1:15-23. I have preached on both the Luke and Acts texts and reflected upon them as well. I have written about Ephesians 1, but I’ve not thought about Psalm 47 in this context. Psalm 47 is the Psalm for today. So, in the spirit of celebration of God’s cosmic rule I invite you to read and ponder this Psalm.  

                So, look up into the heavens. Train your eyes on God. Clap your hands. Shout with joy. For God as achieved victory. Sing praises for God reigns over all things. Jesus might not be mentioned in this Psalm, but the message is one that includes him, especially if we read this through a Trinitarian lens. What applies to the Father applies to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, who is mother of us all.

                Mark Giuliano has a word for us as we consider Jesus’ day of ascension and this call to praise:
Both individuals and congregations, no matter how righteous in their good works, find it difficult to be full of themselves when their mouths are filled with praise to God. How can we boast in our personal or congregational achievements when we are called to “rise and shine and give God the glory, glory”? The Psalmist’s call to praise God can act as a corrective to the dark spirit of smug, self-centered piety that sometimes pervades and even consumes the justice-focused church. [Giuliano, “Ascension of Jesus,” in Preaching God’s Transforming Justice, (Year B), pp. 244-245].
                The message of Ascension is a reminder that we as church are called first and foremost to worship God, and in doing so, we find our calling and our empowerment, and we will engage in ministry and mission with humility, grace, and compassion. In that spirit let us go into the House of the Lord with shouts of praise.
               

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