Look Up - Reflections 5-9-18

 Ascension Day
 May 11, 2018

 Acts 1:1-11
 Ephesians 1:15-23
 Luke 24:44-53

 Most Sundays during worship we say together, in either the Apostles’ or the Nicene Creed, that we believe that Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God.  Tomorrow is the day in the church calendar when we celebrate that event in Jesus’ life. Ascension is always 40 days after Easter Sunday, so it is always on a Thursday. Typically, it doesn’t get big billing like Christmas and Easter (or even Epiphany). 

The writer of the gospel of Luke is also the writer of the book of “Acts of the Apostles”.  He actually reports the ascension twice; he ends Luke and begins Acts with the story. And, he is the only gospel writer who tells that story.  The ascension – or Jesus’ departure in some manner -  is implied in the gospels of Matthew and John; Mark just ends abruptly at the resurrection. 

In Luke the ascension offers Jesus’ final words to his disciples. It’s like a review section before the final test - topics include Kingdom of God as well as the history of God’s people and how Jesus fits in the big picture of it all. Or maybe, because of the close relationships, it is more like a parent leaving a child at kindergarten… or the first day of college - hold these things I told you close to your heart. 

One thing that is clear from these texts is that the ball is now in their court. You are witnesses to the ends of the earth. Tell the story, take my love out to every corner and live it. And you are not alone. My spirit will be with you every step. 

The two men in the Acts reading help emphasize the disciples'  marching orders. Stop looking up and look out instead at God’s beloved world. You are in that world. Pay attention to your neighbor, stop injustice, share forgiveness. 

Another thing the Jesus’ ascension gives to the disciples (which includes us) is a new way of seeing God. Now, we cannot think of God without thinking of Jesus… in the flesh, teaching, healing, dying, rising. God has been in our skin. God has been vulnerable and has felt fear, pain, exclusion…. In other words, God has experienced the joys and challenges of being human. 

God is as near as our next breath. 

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245