Today, we celebrate the ascension of Jesus, and all week, I’ve been thinking about where we believe that Jesus is.
Luke tells us that Jesus was carried up into heaven.
In the Apostles’ Creed we confess that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, and he will come from there to judge the living and the dead.
In Revelation, Jesus the Lamb has a throne next to the Father’s.
In John, Jesus began as one with the Father and returns there after he appears to the disciples.
In popular belief, he is in our hearts.
Jesus is also up there somewhere as we point upwards.
But then, in John, Jesus said he would send the advocate who would be his presence with us after his death. We call the advocate, the Holy Spirit.
We recognize that the Holy Spirit is with us wherever we are, and that the Holy Spirit is one with Jesus and the Father, one God.
So, where are they? Everywhere! Wherever we are, not limited by time and space, our One God can be with me in Beverly Hills, at Seven Rivers Hospital in Crystal River with Russ, and with Victor on the golf course, all at the same time.
Jesus is with the families of those who died in Nepal, and with the survivors, and with those who help them dig out and rebuild.
Jesus is with those who cheer the death sentence for the Boston Bomber, and with those who believe he should have been given a life sentence. Jesus knows that there is plenty of pain on all sides no matter what we believe is just.
There are days when we want God to be really close. When we are sick or afraid or feeling alone, we want Jesus to be right here, in the next chair.
There are also days when we want God to keep away, at a distance, but watching us, as Bette Middler once sang. When things in our life are going well, we don’t want God interfering to muddle things up. J We may not want to consider it, but God is there anyway.
It is possible for Jesus to be wherever we are because after his death he was raised from death and ascended to the Father. Jesus has assumed once again the divine powers he left behind when he became human. Paul in Philippians says that Jesus emptied himself of his divinity in order to become human. Now that he has ascended to heaven, Jesus once again has the authority of God over our lives, and over all creation.
God is ever the same, and yet now different. God has now the experience of being human, after being only divine. God knows more deeply the joys and struggles of being human. God has learned the deep pain of loss of losing a loved one to death, and the over-flowing joy of raising them to new life. God has rejoiced in giving to us the promise of new life after our earthly one is over.
I have also thinking about this:
Today’s passage, and Luke’s entire gospel, is about the commission the disciples now have to carry on Jesus’ mission. Jesus ends by blessing the disciples, as God blessed Abraham. The disciples are blessed to be a blessing to others. As fellow disciples of Jesus, this same blessing and charge is ours as well.
We, today, are blessed to be a blessing to others. We, today, have the opportunity to share this promise with people who need some good news.
Thanks to your generosity, I gave B~ a trunk full of diapers and wipes, some clothes, and a lot of love. I assured her that she and her baby would be welcome here. I told her about the open space where the baby could sit and play, and about the busy bags, and about the nursery. I told her we would love to have her here and that we have been praying that the doctors would find the cause for his diarrhea. I told her that some of our folks offered to babysit. I shared the good news of our love for her and God’s love for her and the baby, too. We have been blessed with enough and more, and we are blessed when we give to others.
Please pray with me. Ascended Lord, you have blessed us with your love, with your forgiveness, with all that we have. You have blessed us with the promise of new life, in relationship with you now, and in the next realm after our earthly bodies die. Lead us to share all of your blessings with those around us. Amen