It's been a full-glorious-completely-blessed-kind-of-Saturday. (It's actually just made it into Sunday morning with me, but I wanted to write this before I slept).
To start with, it was 22 degrees here. Which is pretty much summer. I've been wearing flip flops all week, and it's just that kind of stunning weather that puts everyone in the best possible mood. You know? When we're all secretly ready to don our shorts and t-shirts?
I then taught some great English classes. Like, my Saturday's are pretty full, but I just have some of the best classes and students. I love these days. And I spent my lunch break walking around Odori in the sunshine drinking a Starbucks Frappe and praising God for His many, many blessings whilst listening to Bethel's new (and AMAZING) album 'You Make Me Brave'. You don't get much better combinations really.
So I finished teaching and then went to a choir practice. I'm not sure I've really blogged enough about this, but I joined this awesome gospel choir when I moved to Sapporo and there's this big Christian festival next week that we're singing at. Singing gospel music with a few hundred Japanese people… I can't even tell you how much that reality blesses me. And I'll save more detail for it's own blog 😉
So at 9.30pm I finished practice and hopped on a subway to join the leaving party of a friend of mine. We laughed, sang karaoke and ate a lot of chocolate biscuits. Which again, it a pretty much unbeatable combination. I have some truly beautiful friends here.
And in my thankfulness, my reflections have actually ended up somewhere a little more profound.
I remembered this story-type-analogy about Jesus told by Kierkegaard. And it hit my heart afresh just now.
There was once a king who sought to love a poor and humble maiden.
The king had all the power and splendour that you could imagine at his fingertips.
He was ruler of the whole land.
But he also knew that love could only triumph when it made that which was ‘unequal equal in love.’
His shocked servants and courtiers told him that he was about to give this girl such vast favour that she should be eternally grateful.
But the king was deeply disturbed by this.
Would she be merely grateful, or would she genuinely reciprocate his love?
Would his beloved be happy at his side?
Would she be happier if he left her alone to marry a man who was in fact and reality equal to her?
Would that not be the only way in which true love, the love that demands equality, could flourish?
And what, if coming from backgrounds so different, the king and the maiden could not understand each other?
Consider the possibility that the king should reveal himself in all his majesty to the maiden.
Would this not overwhelm her and make love between them impossible?
Or, maybe the maiden could be raised up, and taught to speak and dress properly and learn how to pass in good society?
Here again, would not the distance and inequality and condescension make real love impossible?
The only way of enabling a loving union is for the king to descend and identify with the maiden.
To share her lot, her suffering and her poverty.
He must take the initiative and become equal to her if they are able to love one another.
The king must become equal to the humblest.
And this can be no play acting or deceit.
It is not enough to have a beggar’s cloak which the wind sweeps aside to reveal the royal garments underneath.
It must be the true condition of the king, alongside his beloved in all respects.
I love that imagary.
It reminds me of the reality of the incarnation.
Jesus took on flesh, forever.
He laid aside His Divine majesty and clothed Himself in the garments of the humblest.
He demonstrated His love through this eternal sacrifice.
Not just in His death, but through His life, through every breath He breathed in human flesh, He demonstrated this majestic love and magnificent grace.
And when He had showed us His love through this life of love, lived walking with the lowest and the least, He rearranged the entire cosmos in an act that only the One who was both fully God and yet fully man could ever undertake.
Through the transformational power of His death.
And our rescue.
He pulled us from the pit and the penalty and the consequence of our sin, and enabled us to stand before Him as an equally yoked bride.
His words resounding through heaven’s courts, ‘What’s yours is Mine and what’s Mine is yours’.
And He rose.
Defeating death and yet still clothed in the humility of flesh, but risen flesh, bearing the eternal scars that still loudly declare His abundant love for us throughout the heavens and the earth.
The wound in His side.
The marks on His hands.
Ascending as a man.
Returning as a man.
His initiative. His design. His purpose.
Our King. Our Beloved.
I am undone. Again.
As the song says, ‘For the sake of love, He left His Father’s throne. Searching for a bride, bone of His bone. Such a humble kiss to make our dust His own. Oh the beauty of this man.’
Thank You Jesus. For loving me. For loving us. For everything.
And here are some photos of this last two days 🙂