PASTOR MATTHEW’S REFLECTIONS ON ASCENSION SUNDAY

So here we are, according to the Acts reading, 40 days away from the event of the resurrection  (obviously that number being meaningful) and Jesus is finally about to leave.  I say "finally" because one gets the sense that He has been lingering like a loving father trying to get the last bits of teaching and learning in before He must depart (before He is called away) to make way for the Paraclete to "take it from here" as it were.

There is so much in these texts to preach on but this year (I have talked before about how much I appreciate the cyclical nature of the lectionary and that we continually have the opportunity to have the same texts work on us over our lives...I love that!, so what I hear this year... I hear the 2 men in white robes asking the disciples "Hey, men of Galilee!, why do you stand staring up into heaven?"  This question, perhaps a gentle admonishment, is a great hedge against the traditional "triumphalist" interpretation of Jesus rising up to a throne of power to begin the empirical business of judging, punishing, "lording over" the world.  We note in the Gospel reading Jesus opening the minds of the disciples to understand the scriptures" in particular to understand that ; "...the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

There's a key piece for this Ascension Sunday, Jesus the Lord Whom God raised from the dead to  "the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come...Is a Lord who suffers.  A Lord who has suffered for all, for every people and every nation.  In this way, Jesus fractures the "triumphant general God" in favour of a God who incarnates Godself to suffer with the creation that God has made so as to understand it, experience it, and redeem it.

The men in the white robes, the angels, are asking the disciples (both then and now)  Why do you look for a Resurrected Lord of All in the clouds?!  Focus your gaze forward to the resurrected Lord incarnated here among you in the body of the Church.  There is work to do here!  there is redemption to be proclaimed, justice to be fought for, wounds to be bound up...get busy!

On this Ascension Day, let us not be standing looking up into the sky to a God enthroned in the clouds but rather let us look forward and around ourselves to a God enthroned and incarnated in the people of the Church and the creatures of the world.

Pax

M+

https://youtu.be/M5QRx8_FYLo