Posts Tagged "Ascension"

Sermon May 28: On Earth, as in Heaven

Posted by on May 28, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon May 28: On Earth, as in Heaven

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/On-Earth-as-in-Heaven_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church May 28, 2017 Ascension Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  Acts 1:1-11, Luke 24:44-53 Prayer for Illumination (Unison):  Holy Lord, the gift of your hope and the power of your Spirit are given to all who worship here today.  Help us grasp the enormity of your gifts, that we may receive these gifts with open hearts and celebrate them joyfully as we serve you in every aspect of our lives.  Amen.  And may the words that I speak and the thoughts that we form be acceptable in your sight, O God our Rock and our Redeemer. Sermon: On Earth, as in Heaven It’s a little bit like science fiction, this thing we call the Ascension.  Jesus lifted bodily into heaven, rising like a helium balloon into the sky, feet getting smaller and smaller the higher he goes.  No wonder the disciples were ‘gazing up toward heaven’ as the Scripture put it.  Jaws dropped, they were probably dumbfounded, wondering what just happened.  What could possibly have just happened??? But at least they had a frame of reference ~ a little background ~ on which to draw to make sense of the experience.  This was only the latest extra-ordinary event they witnessed while in Jesus’ company.  Strange things seemed to happen when Jesus was around.  The blind saw.  The lame walked.  The dead came back to life.  Jesus’ presence alone seemed to elicit all sorts of supernatural happenings.  Voices from heaven.  Visits from prophets.  Vacated tombs.  So, come to think of it, being lifted bodily into heaven doesn’t seem so unlikely in light of everything else. Yet, for us, separated by centuries and scientific facts, this story can be a little hard to swallow.  We get caught up in the ‘how.’  How did it happen?  How could it have happened?  We know ‘scientifically’ that heaven isn’t literally ‘up there’.  Up there we find planets and galaxies and black holes and supernovas.  So where did Jesus go when he ascended into heaven?  Perhaps it was easier for those early disciples, heads titled skyward, to believe.  We know too much.  Stories like this are just too outrageous for educated, modern, cause-and-effect folks like us to take seriously.    This whole Ascension thing makes a good story, but really??   Stuff like this only happens in the movies with special effects and computer generated graphics, not in first century Jerusalem. Now, I certainly don’t want to offend anyone but it is probably not a shock that science fiction movies aren’t really ‘my thing.’  Sure, I got into Star Wars recently, but that’s about the extent of my sci-fi interest.  You might convince me to watch for a few minutes, but I’ll probably be gone as soon as my popcorn runs out.  I bet you can guess what kind of movies I like best.  Chick-flicks, that’s right!  I don’t like the stereotype, but it’s true that I like movies about relationships.  And, lucky for me, I think that is what the Ascension is really about. Today is the final Sunday in our “Rise Up” series.  (Which is fitting, since Jesus actually rises up in our Scriptures this morning.)  Over the past few weeks we’ve explored the Christian concepts of belief, salvation, suffering, judgement and, now, the Kingdom of Heaven.  We tend to think of heaven as a place and, theologically, that is supported.  My Dictionary of Theological Terms defines heaven as, “The place beyond earth that is the abode of God…it is the future eternal abode of those who receive salvation in Jesus Christ.”  In heaven there is no pain, no mourning, no...

Read More

Sermon May 17: Up, Up, and Away

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon May 17: Up, Up, and Away

Faith United Methodist Church May 17, 2015 Ascension Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Luke 24:44-53, Acts 1:1-11 Prayer of Illumination: In the words of Scripture we hear of the power of Christ and the promise of the Holy Spirit. Today the ancient story comes alive in our hearts. We await your Spirit from on high, O God. Come, Lord Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit, into our lives. Amen. Sermon:  Up, Up, and Away Ascension Sunday doesn’t get a lot of press. Tucked in between Easter and Pentecost, it’s kind of like the Preakness to the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Yet we wouldn’t have Pentecost ~ or Easter ~ without it. Jesus wasn’t resurrected only to die again. Jesus was resurrected to be lifted into heaven and live forever with God, so that we can know that there is life beyond this life. And Jesus also had to ascend so we could experience the Holy Spirit and get on with spreading his message throughout the world. “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” One reason the Ascension gets short shrift may be because it is difficult to understand. It’s a little bit like science fiction-y. Jesus lifted bodily into heaven, rising like a helium balloon into the sky. At Lectionary Group this week we had fun thinking of sermon illustrations for these particular Scriptures. Greg recalled the 1960’s song by the 5th Dimension. Do you know which one I’m talking about? “Up, Up and Away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloon.” John tried to remember which superhero’s catch phrase was “Up, Up, and Away!” Turns out it was Superman. And I remembered the Disney film about a man who makes his house into a makeshift airship using thousands of helium balloons. Anyone know this movie? “Up.”   Despite the fun we had, it turns out none of these illustrations are particularly helpful in understanding the Ascension. Perhaps the disciples had an easier time understanding it than we do. This was only the latest extra-ordinary event they witnessed while in Jesus’ company. Strange things seemed to happen when Jesus was around. The blind saw. The lame walked. The dead came back to life. Jesus presence alone seemed to elicit all sorts of supernatural happenings. Voices from heaven. Visits from prophets. Vacated tombs. So, perhaps, watching Jesus lifted bodily into heaven wouldn’t have been so unexpected. Yet, for us, separated by centuries and scientific facts, this story can be a little hard to swallow. We get caught up in the ‘how.’ How did it happen? How could it have happened? Perhaps it was easier for these early disciples, heads titled skyward, to believe. We know too much. We need proof and explanation. We like to follow the scientific method. We need to be convinced. This whole Ascension thing makes a good story, but come on! Stuff like this only happens in comic books and at the movies! We know from Scripture that Jesus told the disciples ~ had even explained to them more than once ~ that he would have to leave them. Yet, even in his absence they would not be alone. In his absence he had given them instructions ~ commandments ~ on how to live. Abide in my love. Love one another as I have loved you. You are my friends if you do what I command you. Today ~ Ascension Day ~ is when the rubber meets the road. Maybe the real miracle isn’t the Ascension itself, but what happened after it. The disciples,...

Read More