May 28, 2017: Glorifying God or Horrifying to God

Posted on : May 25th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

This Sunday is the last Sunday in the Season of Easter.  In many ways, the disciples’ experience surrounding Jesus’ death is the same as our experience when a loved one dies. They mourned the loss of the physical presence of Jesus, just as we do when someone dies.  Then, eventually, they began to experience the spiritual presence of Jesus with them and within them.

That “transition” from physical to spiritual presence is told in a story found in the very last chapter and verses of the Gospel of Luke.  It is called the story of the Ascension of Jesus.  It is a story that comes out of the mystical tradition, which is to say it is not meant to be taken literally, but as a means of explaining a spiritual experience.

In this story, Jesus summarizes the meaning of his life, death and resurrection and tells the disciples it is now their job, their task, their responsibility, to continue proclaiming and doing the work that he did.  Then Jesus lead them out as far as the town of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.  While blessing the disciples, he parted from them and was “carried up into heaven.”

This image of being “carried up into heaven” is found only in one other story of the Bible, the death of the prophet Elijah.  Elijah is also “carried up into heaven.”  In the Hebrew tradition, Elijah is the greatest prophet of them all.  He is the epitome of Justice and the one who seeks Justice for all.  Elijah is the one who brings the spiritually dead community of Israel back to life, by “rattling the dry bones and putting flesh on them.”

The message of Jesus and the message of Elijah are uniquely brought together in the Ascension Story.  They are two stories which speak about glorifying God.  As the prophet Samuel said, “men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

The final question Jesus leaves us with as he ascends to God is this: “Is what you are doing with your life Glorifying God or Horrifying to God?”

Resurrection Blessings as we rise to new heights,


~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Luke 24:44-53

The Ascension of Jesus

Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what our God has promised; but stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

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