Sunday, May 4, 2008

Never around when you need them...

shustersupes Grace, Mercy, and Peace be to you, from our RISEN Lord, Jesus the Christ, Amen.
Our meditation comes from the 1st chapter of Acts.

We have four confirmation students who this Sunday will eat of the Lord's Supper for their first time. They'll sit up front, march up, and receive publicly what God has promised, His Body and Blood for the forgiveness of their sins. Mothers and Fathers, Sunday school and mid-week teachers havYoung Clark floating.e spent at least the last three years preparing them to receive it worthily; that is to believe the promises in the Words of Institution: "This is…!"

Well if you want to see the look of nervous fear in their eyes… to see if their sterling white robes are going to get a little more colorful…? That's Sunday's 2nd service. (You are welcome to stick around 'till then.)

youngclarkcornThey are an energetic lot. It must have been some challenge to sit down and write their faith down, for ALL the church to hear last week. But after three years of hearing it, they spoke the faith naturally.

Luke is one such son of the Church, who wrote the faith down. Let's take a look of some of what He wrote, in the books of Acts, chapter 1:brandon-aug10

"And when He had said these things,
as they were looking on,
Jesus was lifted up,
and a cloud took him out of their sight. "

The Old Testament records many such amazing events that we shouldn't be painfully surprised by the recorded testimony of such miracles in the New Testament. On the other hand, after teaching us for just three years, wouldn't we be surprised if Pastor was lifted up…? A cloud taking our Pastor out of our sight?

Christianflying8kg throughout the centuries understood and believed the Ascension as fact, uncontested. The Ascension ranks to me as one of the most peculiar things Jesus does. Why does he do it? Did Jesus really fly? If so, where'd he go? That's what today we talk about. Where's Jesus?

Let's get some basics on the Ascension. St. Luke covers the Ascension for us in two books, considered his two-volume work: 1st The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, and 2nd, the Book of Acts: TWO, that's really ONE. Luke's Gospel reports to us the following:

(Lk 24:51) While He blessed them,
He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

yellowsunThe Christian Cyclopedia says this about the Ascension: "Event in which the risen Christ removed His visible presence from the society of men and passed into the heavens." This doctrine is based on Acts 1, Mark 16, Luke 24, which narrate the event; John 6 and 20 which look forward to it; and Ephesians 4, 1st Timothy 3, 1st Peter 3, and Hebrews 4, which imply it. overlooking-earth3Throughout the apostolic age, the Ascension is assumed as a fact among the other facts of Christ's life, as consistent with them, and as real.

Christians understood this as fact. Recorded by the many PX056004eyewitnesses there. But notice what happens immediately following Jesus being lifted up… the disciples just gazed… into heaven.

If that was nowadays, I'd try to watch the clouds to see just where Jesus went… maybe to catch him coming back! "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's… it's… it's not Superman. Is he back yet?" Boy sitting on stairs, with a packed bag, ready to go, but very bored.Sounds adolescent, doesn't it? But we do that too. About heaven, "are we there yet?" "It's been 2000 years, and He's not back yet?"

It's not certain how long this waiting game went on, but God saw it good to record for us how He chose to send two men in white robes to bring them back to earth. It seems that these disciples had their heads in the clouds, longing for the return of their savior; postponing the good work set before them. crowd-looking-up

Frankly, I don't horribly blame them. Three years Jesus was with them, bonded together, having gone through things we can only imagine. They missed their teacher. They missed their Pastor. They HAVE their Savior. Even though he's lifted up… Eyes focused and calm.He's still there with them.

No, not in their hearts. The record clearly shows he left their company! So where'd Jesus go? Where is He? …?

Ask any 1 of our 4 Confirmands. Having studied the catechism they know. Looking over the earth, miles into space.And you too have learned it, hearing it from recorded history. During service you'll even say where Jesus is, in the Creed.

"On the 3rd Day,
He rose again and ascended into Heaven,
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty."

Looking down to us. The Ascension marks, for the Savior, the highest degree of exaltation, as it implies His place at the right hand of God, His entering into the full use, according to His human nature, of the divine attributes, of which He relinquished the full and continued use during His State of Humiliation.

So, good for Jesus. He's back up there. But I'm down here. But Front Page:  Where has HE gone?He's up there, where I want to be. Now where's the answer to the confusion, the hopelessness I feel? Now do I look to myself? Do I look to one another? The two men in robes seem to agree with your downcast soul, "don't look up anymore." Hey, if you're looking down, look down into the Good Book, where the answers are:

(Acts 1:9) And when he had said these things,
as they were looking on,
He was lifted up,
and a cloud took him out of their sight. clark reads over someone's shoulder

While in awe, you are not alone.He's out of their sight, not out of their midst. Jesus is not only all-knowing, foretelling of His own crucifixion, but he's also omnipresent, at all places, at all times, especially when He says so.

We Christians believe and profess some things the world would call crazy, even illogical.christopher_reeve_422 But if you take a look around, you'll see the desire for such unbelievable things. This summer, we aren't short of block-busters with the sequel to Narnia, Iron-man, The Incredible Hulk, and even Will Smith's fallen version of a Superman. Flash back 30 years, Christopher Reeve's portrayal of Superman distinguished him forever IE234-065as the man, who made people "believe a man can fly!"

But just try to tell some disciples that Jesus is still with them?! After they saw him leave up, up, and away? Their eyes tell them that he's up there, not down here.

Then YOU my_col_0061remind them what they have seen. (Oh Confirmands all of you: once a student, always a student.) Confirmands, recall what you have learned, confess, and believe. Jesus is both God and man, fully. The impossible has become possible. God became man. The infinite has taken on the finite, so there are no limits where God can be. As if there ever was. But now for your benefit, you can see. You can taste… forgiveness right on your lips. Especially when He says so. 1st humiliation. superman_worldinhishands And now exaltation forevermore!

It'll take a few more chapters in the disciples' lives to see firmly how God has never really stopped being God, not leaving them orphans. But that's how faith is, that we don't have to understand it all. When we could not, cannot, and would not… He came to us. We just eat and believe Jesus' Words. Likewise, the Ascension is not just a fact, it's a blessing.

Ascension is not so much about Jesus going away, or us chasing after Him… it's the on-going story of God acting for us: under, over, wrapping around us, with his presence, never to feel nor eat alone. So that when the time comes… it may not be such a surprise to see us heavenly lifted up, when we least expect it, like He… promised. Amen.

With a plane crashing, Superman speeds to save everyone!


May the Peace of God that does transcend all understanding,
keep your hearts in Christ Jesus, onto life everlasting. Amen.