June 2, 2019

Ascended Now Set Free

Passage: Ephesians 1:15-23, Luke 24:44-53

Send your Spirit of and wisdom, that in the blessed freedom of hope, we may witness to the grace of forgiveness to the One who makes us one body. Amen.

We hardly pay any attention to this day: the Ascension of Jesus into the eternal presence of God.  Now gone.  Now what?  Jesus’ ministry is now complete.  The Greek word ‘kenosis’ signals the fulfillment of all Jesus set out to do, for Jesus is now ‘lifted up above all others’.  His ministry is now complete; and the ministry that continues is the sign that God dwells among mortals as never before.  And God’s place now on this earth is far more than one person or even a small band of disciples.  God’s presence is now global not personal;  no other-worldly dimension but this-worldly.  And in the divine now being present with mortals there is freedom. Freedom to repent, freedom to forgive, freedom to move from being powerful in mind to being poor in spirit.  God sets free those who are in bondage; any kind of bondage: monetary , spiritual -- setting the world on its head, moving the privileged away from their place and the poor into the heart of God.  In a very real sense Jesus is now completing what his mother prayed all those years ago:  God has now cast the mighty from their thrones, lifting up the lowly.  The hungry are filled, the rich sent away empty.  And we say… this is good but we can’t see such a thing happening now or ever.

The problem is we look through physical eyes not spiritual.  And if anything is spiritual it is the Ascension.  For Jesus has now become only spirit and the physical has passed from among mortals. We pray for forgiveness but do we really?  We pray for hope in this world but do we live in that hope?  We pray for healing but do we believe it?  The Scripture understands forgiveness as liberation from captivity, the cancellation of all debts monetary obligations even physical now only owing each other the only thing left: to love.  For Jesus in his physical now his spiritual ministry is deeply committed to the literal redemption of any chained by any kind of hardship which includes longing to be forgiven; seeking hope in seeming endless hopelessness; being healed in spirit which is far more than being healed in a body that is ever dying.  Jesus promised new life for any who would live into his promises and this day is our opportunity to tilt toward  those promises.  In the Ascension God’s hand has reached out like in Michelangelo’s creation painting.  Only this is God reaching out to grasp the hand of Jesus bringing him finally into the cloud.  And if we think on the Hebrew Scriptures of the people walking through the desert after leaving Egypt we will know the cloud represents the presence of God among humans.  God reaches out to Jesus drawing him into the cloud so Jesus can now fully live among us with no restrictions fully and forever present in this world not just in Judea or Galilee or Jerusalem.  That is the meaning of the Ascension:  Jesus has been set free in a way he was never free before. And in his freedom we are now free: to forgive, to hope, to live with joy unending, to be so filled with Jesus’ presence we extend that forgiveness, we offer hope and joy, and we see the world through his eyes.  Eyes filled with the light of God, eyes of faith, people dwelling in the mystical presence of Jesus now set free to become light itself.  Amen.

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