Whats up with the Ascension

This can be heard here

Gate Pa -  Ascension Sunday and Easter 7 Year B
Palm                            Psalm 1
First Reading:             Acts 1:1-11, 15-17,21-26                     Bible Page 884
Second Reading:        1 John 5:9-13                                       Bible Page 991
Gospel:                        John 17:6-19                                        Bible Page 879

What I want to say:
I want to explore what the ascension of Jesus might offer us beyond Jesus goes to heaven.
What I want to happen:
How does our abiding in the Godhead affect how we see the world and how we live our lives.

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

Last Thursday big day
            what was it?
it is day we remember Ascension Christ using the timing set out by Luke in Acts  
most churches now remember it today, Sunday
keep wondering – why have it?
I have for a long time not really understood it
most gospels don’t really have Ascension
even Luke little confusion about when happened.
not like there is universal agreement
            when happened
            even that it happened at all
so why have it?  

     2.      Problematic

also a little bit problematic
said gospel writer trying change things up
normally understand Jesus by using preconceived notions about God
            come what call Old Testament
            come dominant cultural images
e.g. – call God king
brings into pay whole baggage of what Kings are about
what gospel writers doing in talking about Jesus life and death and resurrection
            invite us to begin understand God through him
            he is to be our primary image of God, nature of God
that is what today reading from John is all about
want to know who God is – look at Jesus
not other way around
Central to this is idea of incarnation
            God coming amongst us
            who can be found at work in creation
            bringing healing and life and mercy
pretty much where Matthew, Mark, and John leave it
Ascension kind of says that – Jesus gone back heaven
incarnation was just a wee blip
temptation to chuck incarnation out the window
leads to three problem

     3.      More Problems

first it that we stop seeing Jesus as our way of understanding God
Jesus gone back to God head
almost discount Jesus earthly life
            sure – good teaching in there
            for some miracles are great
                        others little problematic
            dying and rising is important for getting into heaven and such
ð  Jeus ceases to be starting point how we understand God.
revert back to old images God
like ruler and judge  of all creation
sits at right hand
God all powerful
so we end up ton images like our resurrection window
bears no resemblance to Jesus described in Gospels

leads to next problems
idea that God is watching us from a distance – ok song
            terrible theology
this idea that judging us from a distance
where do you get that from Gospels

then get idea that because Jesus have ascended to heaven
incarnation is over
Jesus has left the house
all up to us to carry on mission
if don’t nothing happen
so mission becomes something we do
            rather than something God does
pretty clear in Anglican theology anyway
mission is God’s work
we join in that work
understanding of mission
puts a lot pressure on us
result that too often freeze
end up not doing a lot
hoping someone else will do it
remember when I first read that mission is God’s work
huge wait came off me
and I thought – I can do that
I blame Ascension for all this
it has confused us
left us with bad theology
frozen under weight of our responisbilities
leaves me with this one question
why Luke
why did you have to include this?
didn’t you look ahead
can’t you see where this is going to end up?
clearly something more going on

     4.      Incarnation

Lets back up a bit
make this a day of heavy theology
and have a wee look at Incarnation
pretty central idea for us Christians
not one suspect spend a lot time thinking about
how might we talk about that
not easy
God the Eternal Word coming among us
as one of us
in person Jesus
fully human
fully divine
In this moment
divinity fully divine Jesus
mingles with our humanity
with all its earthiness and messiness
to remind us that we are made in image of divine love
to show us what that divine love looks life
remind us that in our creation
            divinity had already mingled with our humanity
what does say to us?
how does that shape anything?
how do we respond to that
should blow our minds
that God values us
            each one of us
            all humanity
            so much
that God eternal Word came among us
            as one of us
            in all our humanness
            and powerlessness
sign how much God values us
            esteems us
            loves us
that is how important we are to God

     5.      Ascension

what then is the ascension?
in ascension
this fully divine and fully human Jesus ascends into the Godhead
In this moment Christ’s humanity mingles with God who is three in One
lets pause
our humanity mingles with the Trinity
like a welcome mat is put out for us
come and join in their ongoing party
drawn into life of God
right into the heart of that life.
think sometimes we think heaven like
i am here
you are there
God is way over there
not what this is all about
Human Jesus is drawn back into the life of the Trinity
not separate from it
into the heart of Trinity
we join in that life

     6.      Salvation in John

John talks a lot about abiding in God’s life and love
            big theme
            especially through last prayer/speech listening to over last few weeks
another big theme is eternal life
rather than salvation being getting into heaven when die to spend eternity with God
salvation is
            through the ascension
            drawn into life in Trinity        
            beginning now
            small incomplete way we can do that now
as we abide in
live in
are rooted in this life
we are shaped and moulded to be people marked by life and love of Trinity
revealed in life, death and resurrection of Jesus
I don’t know about you
but I find these images a little unsettling
much bigger than ideas grew up with
seemed quite safe really
God is over there all powerful
I am here doing what I am told
This is all about relationship
all about me and you being drawn into something
that we have no control over
something that has been
and will continue to change us
we become marked with same life and passion and love that marked Jesus life
that come from God
in Ascension then
we are reminded of our divinity


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