Ascension: Our Eyes Focused and Clear

To the modern mind the story of the Ascension can seem a bit odd, recounting Jesus’ physical ascent upward through the clouds.

Going up! Strange, even exotic To be thinking of Jesus rising away out of sight- Like Glenda the good witch- To an Oz- like heaven somewhere beyond the clouds.

This story cries out to be read in a different, more practical way. The whole story of the Way of Jesus includes Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and Also- although we often forget it- His ascension into heaven.

The Ascension is not a quaint add-on to the Easter story; simply a way to get Jesus off the scene, stage right. The Acension is integral to who Jesus, Wgho God is for us, And even shapes who we are As followers of the Way of Jesus..

Two important Facts flow from the Ascension.

First, in ascending to the “right hand” of God, Jesus brought his full humanity— the totality of all that he experienced, lived, and loved on earth— into the fullness of the divine reality.

Jesus was not some plastic Ken doll- Or a disembodied ghost Who floated through life Unaffected and unattached to this world.

Believing that Jesus was both divine and human means beleiveing That Jesus lived and loved his friends and family, That he sweated and worked, cried and laughed, lived and died Just as we do.

The Ascension means that everything that we humans experience— our hopes and fears, what delights us- and what terrifies us— what brings us closer to each other- and what keeps us apart- is now forever embraced and transformed, through Christ, in the divine life of God.

That makes a difference in how we look at our own lives.

It is the human Jesus Who helps us understand God's purpose Of love and compassion- Not as an abstract theological idea Or article of faith But as the living reality of our lives- First enfleshed in Jesus But also living and active in our own existence.

We are called by the dawning of this very day, And every day when we open our lives in sleep, to heed the query of the angels, “Why are you looking at the sky?”

Jesus’ ascension signals that we are no longer to encounter him as his first followers did.

Yes, he promises, "I will be with you always . . .” but now in a new way.

Henceforth we are to encounter Christ only through “the eyes of our hearts,” as St. Paul puts it.

Jesus no longer walks among us in some discrete, localized form .

Christ and God are to be encountered through the Word and through our Worship through our struggle for justice, and the proffering of mercy— We encounter Christ now as the one “who fills all things in every way.” So the writer of the letter to the Ephesians prays for us in our second reading-

From the Message translation- In the light of Christ’s glorious Ascension. Let us pray: “I ask—ask the God of Jesus Christ, the God of glory— to make us intelligent and discerning in knowing Christ personally, our eyes focused and clear, so that we can see exactly what it is God is calling us to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life Christ has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of God’s work in us who trust God— endless energy, boundless strength!

Amen.