Thursday, May 25, 2017

He Returns To Love

Ascension Day
It is the Ascension of Jesus in the first chapter of Acts. He who came from Love returns to Love. A crowd of followers stand and watch. “Why do you stand looking into heaven?” ask two men dressed in white robes. Who are these guys?

Are these the same two men dressed in dazzling white clothes in the tomb? The same two who said, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?”

Like the scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when Butch and the Kid are trying to outrun the Pinkerton Agents, holed up behind a rock, looking back at the cloud of dust that was the Agents and Butch says, “Who are those guys?”

And why do we look up into the heavens? Humans have been doing this forever – and ever. Looking for some way out of here. As the Nobel Laureate put it:
There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief

That’s what makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ so unique: it is not about escape. It’s about waiting patiently upon the Lord to deliver, right here, right now. Well, not exactly right now. As he is ascending the people ask when? When will we be delivered? Jesus says, “It’s not for you to know the times or periods set by the Father. But you will receive Power from the Holy Spirit and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the Earth!”

First, we notice that the Luke 24 account of his ascension actually precedes Acts, and that Luke and Acts are Volumes 1&2 of Luke’s full account to Theophilus – literally “God Lover”, or “Friend of God”, or “Beloved by God.” God’s Beloved. That is, you and me.

Next, we note that Luke has Ascension occur on Easter Sunday, Acts has it forty days later.

Evidently Luke/Acts is not reporting “history” the way we usually understand it.

Luke has the Ascension end Gospel and the time of Jesus.

Acts has the Ascension start the time of the Church: a time to Witness – to the ends of the Earth.

In Luke, all the action moves from the world to Jerusalem.
In Acts, all the action moves out from Jerusalem to the world.

In Luke – Jesus says, “Wait in the city for all God’s Spirit and Glory to break in – wait for further instructions!” Stay here until further notice.

In Acts two men in white ask:What are you standing around for? What are you looking for? Get moving, get going, moving on and out! The Time of Witnessing begins with his departure. It is time for Action, Mission, and witnessing. Not Standing around, watching and waiting.

In the past I have done a balloon release at the end of the Ascension service. It’s fun to stand there and watch them float away. But, it’s a bad idea since it causes ecological problems for other creatures. And it’s a Bad symbol because we end up standing around looking up like the disciples instead of getting on with it!

The very last words of scripture are, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come!” Yet, in the most real sense he never left. We live within this paradox. He is coming, and he is here when we know where to look.

See the Son Rising
See the Son Rising
See the Son Rising
He is here

He is here in the city
He is here in the streets
He is here in our singing
He is here in the people that we meet

Alleluia Alleluia he is here
Alleluia Alleluia he is here

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