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Checkmate

Can you learn to sing Psalm 100 from the shadow-lands? We become the songs that we sing. We still get our praise on because we believe that the king still has one more move.

Bishop Kenneth Ulmer pastors a church at the L.A. Forum—the arena where the Los Angeles Lakers used to play basketball. Bishop Ulmer tells the story of two men in a museum who see a painting of a chess game and interpret its details. One of the chess players is a man. The other player, the villain, is the devil. The man is down to his last move. The inscription reads Checkmate.

One of the observers in this parable was an international chess champion. He became fixated and fascinated with the painting. He studied every nuance, expression and detail. Something haunted him. He couldn’t look away. His friend became annoyed and left. This chess champion looked at the painting closer, and closer and closer.

After some time, the friend of the chess champion returned and asked, “What’s wrong with the painting, what’s the big deal?”

“It’s titled Checkmate, but the title is wrong. The king still has one more move.”

After the cry’s of Hosanna that hauntingly turned to shouts of CRUCIFY HIM CRUCIFY HIM.

After the betrayal and denial of two of his own… after the mock trial of the ages—false witness after false witness… after Pilates “I find no fault” still we find ourselves at Golgatha’s cross… Mark 15:21-32

Israel is living under the heel of imperial oppression for what feels like the twentieth time in its history. Rome owns them. Rome tells them to keep their religion to themselves; to shut up and be good citizens. Rome tells them to believe that Caesar has all the power. It looks like checkmate but a baby is born and Herod quakes in his boots. The king still has one more move.

Jesus is crucified in shame, mockery, isolation and horror. We like to talk about why he died but we don’t like to talk about why he was killed. The disciples are depleted. The story seems over. His body rests in a borrowed tomb. Another failed messiah. It looks like checkmate but the king still has one more move.

The powers of darkness appeared to be victorious when Jeremy, Jenny, Mary and Jesus died. But the king still had one more move because the king is more for us than we are for ourselves.

If you know, deep in your bones, that the king still has one more move, doxology shaped by Psalm 100 would be welcome in every part of your life. The whole universe is humming this song. Can you feel it? Can you hear it? The generations singing together: His love endures forever.

The proclamations and impact of the cross and empty tomb led to bold statements of… there is NOW no condemnation… we are more than conquerors… for we know that Christ was raised from the dead… death no longer has mastery… in the same way count yourself dead to sin but alive in Christ Jesus… offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life… death has been swallowed up in victory… where O’ death is your victory… where O’ death is your sting… they are no more… by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—the adversary—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death…

O’ church rejoice this morning in the taking of the cup, find a neighbor to hug, high five, speak words of love, joy to your neighbor as we rejoice in the tomb that was empty and God’s promise that He will one day send our Savior back to complete what was started with the empty tomb and bring completion to the start of making all things new… the king still has one more move…

-Michael

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