Lent 2012: 6.3 — Pressing on to the Altar

Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.

My heart is moved by a noble theme as I recite my verses to the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. You are the most handsome of men; grace flows from your lips. Therefore God has blessed you forever.

Mighty warrior, strap your sword at your side. In your majesty and splendor–in your splendor ride triumphantly in the cause of truth, humility, and justice. May your right hand show your awe-inspiring acts. Your arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.

Your throne, God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy more than your companions. Myrrh, aloes, and cassia perfume all your garments; from ivory palaces harps bring you joy. Kings’ daughters are among your honored women; the queen, adorned with gold from Ophir, stands at your right hand.

Listen, daughter, pay attention and consider: forget your people and your Father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Bow down to him, for he is your lord. The daughter of Tyre, the wealthy people, will seek your favor with gifts.

In her chamber, the royal daughter is all glorious, her clothing embroidered with gold. In colorful garments she is led to the king; after her, the virgins, her companions, are brought to you. They are led in with gladness and rejoicing; they enter the king’s palace.

Your sons will succeed your ancestors; you will make them princes throughout the land. I will cause your name to be remembered for all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.

— Psalm 45 (HCSB)

Today, we go to a wedding. But, not just any old wedding, we’re talking a royal wedding. This wedding will make Di and Charles or Kate and Henry look small–insignificant even.

Psalm 45–what I consider to be one of the most poetic Psalms–is a wedding song. Solomon is getting married. The world is watching. All eyes are on the event that is about to transpire.

The aisle has been flowered. The king stands at the altar. All of earth and heaven wait.

A hush falls on the people as the royal wedding march begins.

And, so it is now.

The hush has fallen as the King awaits His bride–the church. All of heaven and earth waits with anticipation for the moment that the Royal Wedding march will begin.

Yet, the Bride is still being prepared.

Still being made ready.

Still being sanctified–set apart.

Still being called out from the nations of the earth.

And all of heaven and earth wait. In quiet anticipation. As the Bride is called to forget her people and her father’s house. She is being called to cast of the things of her old life, and put on the things of her new life (Ephesians 4, Colossians 3). She is being called to press on to holiness.

And, so, once again, we find ourselves planted firmly between the now and the not yet. Between the church door and the altar. Between a call and a desire to holiness and holiness itself.

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ my Lord., for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

— Philippians 3:7-15 (HCSB)

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