Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Remembering Ascension by Pastor Bettye

June 5, 2011
Acts 1: 1 – 11
Remembering the Ascension

It all comes down or up to this…..
……the single most important act which rivals the resurrection.
As it is occurring Jesus is promising another will come; one with whom the followers of the Way will have direct experience…but let’s leave that story for Pentecost .
For this moment, the Ascension is the culmination of Jesus Life and Ministry.
Jesus who came from God is now returning to God and the people of the Way, the disciples and followers of Jesus are left with challenge:
· To keep their lives centered on God
· To keep their lives rooted and grounded in God
· Allowing God to be the one in whom they “live and move and have their being”
That is the hard part….
The followers of Jesus, the people of the Way had a difficult time understanding and trusting this message.
They had a hard enough time understanding Jesus purpose and now……. his ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit?!?!?
The followers of the Way wanted to run back to their old lives, back to Galilee with bags packed just in case this plan with Jesus doesn’t work out.
The followers of the Way are also looking forward to the return of Jesus and cannot quite grasp that there is work to be done for the Kingdom, harvests to gather, vines to prune in the waiting time.
They cannot grasp that another is coming to empower their mission and ministry …on the Way.
Jesus really does take his followers along the Way one step at a time.
The people of the Way are to be his witnesses, spreading the Good News to the end of the earth.
They bear and understand only so much – hasn’t the past 3 years gone by fast enough with miracle after miracle?
The followers of the Way may have just wanted it all to slow down so that they could take a breath….
Before they can even ask the next question, they are left standing dumbfounded, necks craning to see beyond the clouds – hardly believing this next miracle which would leave them….alone. (Wizard of OZ)
Suddenly voices cry out assuring them of the promise of Jesus return but…….in the meantime there is work to be done with the Comforter.
The Way begins and excitement is at hand! With the Ascension of Christ a new thorough fare or “THROUGH WAY” has been lined up and Jesus was the first to travel it.
The followers of the WAY become the bearers of the story…they will be showing others THE WAY.
God did not use the temple elite, the rich, the politically powerful to open up people’s hearts to the Way.
God used simple folk, peasants, outcasts, thick skulled, hard headed, frightened people…..
People like you and me have been called to Jesus’ radical message of hope, a heavenly home, and God’s love for us in Christ and our love for one another.
Jesus stays with them long enough to break down the barrier to the Way with his cross and them to nudge them to the edge of this new country, this new promise and then passes them off to the Holy Spirit who will continue the work of the Way he has formed.
The followers of the Way are about to find their voices for this message of truth and Good News which will be carried to the ends of the earth and into our time.
The challenge for the hearers of this Gospel Message is to go and do likewise. Those with ears to listen can be assured in the words of Jesus;
I will not leave you orphaned….you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you….you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.
The bearers of the message, the new people of the Way have found that traveling IN COMMUNITY is the best Way to handle this call, this journey.

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