April 2, 2018 – Rejoice! He Lives!

Royalty has always fascinated me. I love reading books about Queen Elizabeth I, King Louis XIV, Catherine the Great and many others. I try not to be obsessed with modern royal families, but I can’t help myself. One of my favorite current TV shows is The Crown. I don’t know when this fascination with royalty began and why it continues to this day, but it I think it does help to explain why I love the imagery of Christ the King. The majesty and splendor is enthralling!

There is a major difference in the royalty that we can become so obsessed with on earth and our heavenly King, and I think this is where it becomes truly fascinating. That difference is that Christ is so much more than just our king. He is our friend, comforter, savior, provider, and the list goes on and on. When you stop to think about the big picture, you will realize it all boils down to this: the creator of everything cares about sharing a personal relationship with us. The lord of the universe desires our love.

This Sunday, I will be playing an arrangement of “Rejoice! The Lord Is King” for the prelude. I arranged this piece alongside an organ prelude attributed to J. S. Bach. The juxtaposition reminds me of being present in the kingly court of monarchs past. But when you listen to this piece and think about the lyrics, remember that Christ the King came to earth as a human and died and rose again in order to have a personal relationship with you!

Rejoice! The Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing and triumph evermore.
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

God’s reign can never fail. Christ rules o’er earth and heaven;
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus given.
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! For Christ, the Judge, shall come
To glorify the saints for their eternal home.
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice!
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

On Palm Sunday, Jim delivered a sermon with a similar message: he told us that Jesus always shows up. That message is in every part of the Easter story. The Jewish people wondered if their Messiah would ever come to save them, and Jesus showed up. After Jesus’ crucifixion, all hope seemed lost; then Jesus showed up. Jesus is still showing up for us at just the right time.

If you grew up in a Baptist church like the ones in which I grew up, then you know the hymn “He Lives!” It is a song that rejoices in the resurrection of Jesus and reminds us what that means for us as Christians. One of my composition mentors created a dynamic setting of this hymn that reminds us that Christ did not defeat death and then leave us on our own. He walks with us and talks with us, and when we need him, he is always near.

I serve a risen Savior; he’s in the world today;
I know that he is living, whatever others say.
I see his hand of mercy; I hear his voice of cheer;
And just the time I need him, he’s always near.

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with along the narrow way.
He lives! He lives salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives: he lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see his loving care,
And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair.
I know that he is leading through all the stormy blast;
The day of his appearing will come at last.

He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with along the narrow way.
He lives! He lives salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives: he lives within my heart.

This Sunday as you listen to the settings of these hymns, I hope you will rejoice that Jesus Christ lives today and he lives for us!

– Shelton