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The 7th Sunday of Easter

May 12th, 2013

The Ascension of Our Lord Into Heaven!

 

 

 

Gospel:

Mark 16:15-20

 

 

        Jesus said to his disciples:  “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.  These signs will accompany those who believe:  in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

        So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God.  But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

 

He had been with them for forty days.  They had been very glad to see him again, but something had changed.  There were no reports of miracles worked by him during that time.  Nothing at all, except the way in which he appeared suddenly through ceilings and floors, unopened windows and locked doors.

 

        He spoke to them, that’s true.  But when he spoke to them, he only spoke about them.  He told them that he was giving them power.  The power to forgive one another.  The power to cast out evil.  The power to handle snakes with their hands, animals that had always been the symbol of sin.  He told them that He would send them his Holy Spirit.  And for the rest, no news.  Nothing happened until the fortieth day, when they met on a mountaintop.

It seems to have started with their question, a question that had been burning on their lips and in their minds for such a long time:  “Lord, has the time come?  When are you going to restore this world?”  When they asked that question, his feet left this earth a little bit.  “When are You going to  bring salvation and redemption (he got a little higher), the emancipation and the justice, the goodness and integrity (he got a bit higher again), the health and the life, the development and the Kingdom of God you have promised and we are waiting for?”  He was very high now.

 

                The more they insisted, the higher he rose.  Then, from above, he said:  “Let us not discuss times and dates.  Let us not discuss when it will all be finalized.  Let us discuss how you – yes you – will receive the Spirit.  How you will have to go out proclaiming the good news from here till the end of the earth, baptizing those who believe, casting out devils, picking up snakes, using your gift of tongues, laying your hands on the sick.  Start moving.  You, not me.  I am leaving; it is up to you now.

While he was saying this, he left this earth, getting higher and higher, until they could not see him anymore.  They went to Jerusalem to wait for the Spirit.  Not what they were expecting.  Not what you and I are expecting either.  Many of us claim to be Christians, to be followers of Jesus Christ.  How many of us take the task he left us seriously?

 

        We are quite willing to pray, to spend time in church, but how many of us carry our worshiping and the teachings we had heard, out of our churches into our daily lives?  We live in a world, it seems, that is far from good.  We all know about the snakes, the sins, the corruption, the terrorism, the violence, the hunger, the bribes asked for, the drugs, the neglect and abuse, the deception, the widows and widowers, and the disrespect for human life, the government cover ups, and now, the attempt to take God completely out of our lives.

 

        Don’t we often use Jesus as an excuse for sitting comfortable in this rubble and rubbish?  Perhaps we might be inclined at times to say:  “After all, he redeemed us.  We are washed in his blood.  We are safe.  We are saved.  We look up to the Master, we fold our hands, we bend our knees, we distribute our bibles, we contribute to our churches, we close our eyes, we close our ears, we close our noses, we close our hands, we close mouths, and we bless the world.  We even bless its bombs and its fighter jets, and we sing:  “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” and “Alleluia, Praise the Lord.”

 

        Insofar as we are concerned, insofar as it depends on us, nothing is going to change in this world.  Nothing is going to change because we glorify him who sits at the right hand of God our Father.  Do you know what Jesus Christ is doing there at that right hand?  It’s explained to us in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 10, and verse 13.  The letter reads:  “He took his seat at the right hand of God where he is waiting, until his enemies are overcame by us!” 

 

        His disciples were left behind on earth because of that.  That is why he said to them:  “I leave you as salt.  I leave you as yeast.  I leave you as light.”  Don’t we often piously think that we should be waiting for him?  In actual fact, he is waiting for us!  He is waiting for us, for humankind, to get with the program and clean up our act.  Do we think that He doesn't see what is going on in this world?  In this country?  Do you think that He is happy about it?  He didn't make it this way my friends.  We can sit on our rear ends and pretend that nothing bad is going on in this country.  We can bury our heads in the sand.  We can block it all out and live in our own little world.  But that is not going to cut it.  Christianity, yes, us Christians are being persecuted, and it's getting more and more common everyday.  We screwed it all up, and now He is waiting for us to fix it!  Having said that, we HAVE to understand that God is in control, that this is God's world.  He created it, and if and when He wants it destroyed, He will do that Himself.  We HAVE to cling to the HOPE that He has given us, the promise that was given to us, the reason why Jesus died on that cross, so that eternal life will be possible for us, at least for those who follow Him, for those who do not deny God.  As for all others, that is those who deny Him, hell will be their reward.

 

 

© Deacon Steve A. Politte

May 12th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to me / Kari Jobe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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