Politics of Worship - Waiting for the King
Wow. Thank you Amanda Gorman. The nation’s hero, no matter which nation you come from. A stunning poem and a stunning delivery. “The best 5.47 minutes in the longest time” someone tweeted.
The world was inspired by the sight of this extraordinary 22 year old black woman from Los Angeles reading her amazingly crafted message of hope at President Biden’s inauguration. So much wisdom, so much beauty, all packed into a spoken word poem of under six minutes.
Sometimes it is hard to remember that as Christians we pray “Thy Kingdom come” for something other than democracy! We pray for the return of a King. Our Christian hope is not of democratic politics but for worshipful politics. Our problem is that only having ever experienced human leaders, it becomes impossible for us to imagine any form of ruler who is not merely benign but actively benevolent.
Scripture helps us see God’s reality… In Revelation chapters 4 and 5 we have an amazing view into the throne-room of heaven, to see our King. Like a cinematic reveal the text shows with ever widening scope the worship of our King across the cosmos:
First, (4:8) the four creatures that surround the throne. The one who sits on the throne has an appearance of utter brilliance, and the worshippers surrounding the throne declare: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” This King is holy to the power of three, that is sinless x sinless x sinless (sinless cubed), in other words absolutely and completely and totally without any single moral or relational imperfection. A King who not only is good, but who defines good. A King who “was and is and is to come”. H IS before creation; He IS now; and He IS to come. There is nothing in all of creation greater than Him. He is not temporary, nor transient, nor evolving, nor changing. HE IS.
Second, (4:11) the twenty-four elders seated on thrones around the King’s throne declare: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” The one who IS, is the one who creates. He creates not an empty cold universe but a universe of life and of beauty and of hope reflecting something of His unfading glory.
Third, (5:9-10) the creatures and the elders combined. Standing in the centre of the throne is a Lamb that looks as if it has been killed. This Lamb alone in all of existence has the ability to begin the King’s final judgement on all evil, and to herald the King’s rule across the heavens and the earth, because, they declare, “you have been slaughtered, and with your blood you purchased people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” The blood of the Lamb has paid the price of salvation for humans, so the Lamb is praised not as an imposter upon the throne but as one who deserves to be there.
Fourth (5:12) ten thousand times ten thousand angels: now sing that the Lamb is worthy “to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” This Lamb who died but now lives is given the same worship as that already given to God (4:11). The Lamb, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David (5:5), the Messiah, the Christ of Israel, Jesus is one with God.
Finally (5:13) every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea: join together singing to both Him who sits upon the throne and the Lamb “praise and honour and glory and power for ever and ever!” Because this kingdom of total goodness, this kingdom without “death or mourning or crying” (21:4) this kingdom will come when the dwelling of God is among His people.
Dear Amanda you say “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” You are right.
There is always light. But Amanda the good news is that we don’t need to be brave enough to be anything other than a reflection of the light of the King whose glory will fill the universe!
Photo credit: royalty free photo by MCCV on Shutterstock. "Poet Amanda Gorman at the inauguration ceremony. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021"
If you want to read Amanda’s beautiful poem, you can find the transcript here.