(as I see it) After three sweet, thrilling, terrifying, wondrous, life-transforming, years of sharing life and ministry with Jesus, three days have now passed, three very long days emptied of his presence, his teachings, his encouragements, his friendship, his love. The disciples are together in their lodgings in Jerusalem under orders to wait their empowering. Wait for what, exactly, they aren’t clear. How they would recognize ‘it’ when ‘it’ happened, they aren’t sure either. When the ‘it’ would happen is also an agonizing question mark. That first day, the day, before their very eyes, Jesus, without warning, was wrested away from them up into the sky, they spent a lot of time playing guessing/hoping games. But having exhausted all imaginable possibilities with no greater clarity, they’ve centered in on prayer, specifically, on the words Jesus had taught them as a model for how they might pray. Beginning with the astonishing first words, ‘Our Father,’ and pausing to let them sink in, suddenly prayer is an intensely emotional exercise with tears of gratitude glistening on the cheeks of everyone around the room. It’s only right now, alone and without Jesus, that this precious, never-to-be-taken-away truth is blossoming in their hearts. Jesus’ Father was their Father, too. They’d been given full access to Him! With that window now open, they’re riveted on the phrase which has been variously translated: ‘Thy Kingdom come!’ ‘Your Kingdom come!’ ‘May Your Kingdom come.’ ‘Manifest your Kingdom realm.’ ‘Manifest your will here on earth.’ ‘Do what’s best – as above, so below.’ They begin to delve into what this phrase means, in practical terms. What did Jesus say about the Kingdom? How did he present it? Weren’t there some shocking details about the Kingdom that he tried to help them grasp? And so, as they remember the many conversations with Jesus concerning the Kingdom, their wait morphs, becoming less tedious, less burdensome, less crazy-making. It’s as if they’re hearing Jesus’ words again, as if he were there speaking them, filling the air with them, right in the room, seeding refreshing hope into their hearts with their power, their truth, here and now in this new, suspense-filled context. Then, a strange thing happens, something akin to joy, a kind of celebrating stirs in them, bringing smiles and laughter, even some dancing! It’s like at wedding ceremonies when everyone is caught up in the festivities, like Jesus is there with them as a Bridegroom celebrating with his friends! One of them recalls words from the Psalms and speaks them out for everyone to hear: “In your presence, face-to-face with you, is fulness of joy.” And here they are, in his Presence, without his presence, and yet filled with joy! A new-to-them, brilliant Kingdom reality.
I believe God’s Kingdom, with all the brilliant realities it has to offer, remains unchanged, undimmed, uncompromising, these twenty-one centuries later. May Kingdom-affirming prayer restore, resuscitate, replenish, us as we continue to seek its next celebration. See y’all tomorrow at 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM, 6 PM. PD