2016-05-08 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2016-05-08 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2016-05-08 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton

Download MP3

Luke 24:44-53

      • Jesus is Ascended! He is ascended, indeed!
    • we say it every month…”he ascended into heaven”…. really?

do we realize the sense of wonder and perhaps even outland-ishness of that part of our creed?

[Imagine talking to your “seldom goes to church” co-worker, family member about this….]

– ya, so…Jesus ascended into heaven
– And where did he go, how did he get there? Is heaven up there? So if we can fly far enough, we’ll get there too?
– So, he just, floated up into the clouds…
– And just what is he doing up there?? Sitting at the right hand…and he just shot up like a rocket and landed on a golden throne, then?

I mean…he ascended into heaven….really.

“Then he led the 11 and their companions 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.”

We just read that this morning, and then said, “Thanks be to God.”
No one stood up and wanted to push back on it…hmm?

If we step back a few steps in today’s story, we get reminded of why ascension is so integral to the “way” we follow Jesus TODAY…

Though it doesn’t make it any easier to comprehend – –

I’m going to reach back to v. 36 in this morning’s Jesus story…

In his post-resurrection body, for 40 days, Jesus consistently scared the bejeeberz out of his closest friends.

Time after time he stands among them and says: “Peace be with you!”

Perhaps he says this because he sees the look in their eyes each time he walks through locked doors and enters the room…

In today’s Jesus story, the 11 are once again, startled and terrified.

Jesus says: “Why are you frightened?

Why do doubts arise in your hearts?

Look at my hands and my feet;
See that it is I myself.
Touch me and see;
A ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

Peter, James and John marvel at their once-dead friend…others shout out: “It’s true, the teacher is alive!” “It’s just as Mary told us…He IS risen!”

Some believed…some wondered if it was too good to be true.

Jesus interrupts the frenzy of emotion with a practical request…

“Pardon me, fellas…Have you anything here to eat?”

Of course, of course! Peter grabs a clay dish and fills it with broiled fish, pita bread and dried fruits. Yes, you’re not a ghost…I get it…eat, eat, eat! And a splash of wine to wash it down? [tho’ I’m gonna sneak a peek and see if it spills out…O friendly Spirit]

Days later, the 11 and their companions heads and hearts are full as they complete what Thomas describes as the “Everthing Written about Jesus in the law of Moses, Prophets and Psalms” [EW J university] bootcamp…it’s rigorous, mind-blowing, and sometimes overwhelming (ie. You mean, when the Bush says I Am…that’s you?)

And time after time, Jesus opens their minds and hearts to understand the scriptures…

And he keeps on giving them these new marching orders… “repentance and forgiveness, repentance and forgiveness…not just for you…yes, we start in Jerusalem but we are going worldwide with this message!

James and John push back a wee bit…

But…the 11 of us, plus this motley, lower-middle class group of hangers on’ers? We’re un-educated; un-qualified; under-achieiving…

We? Are going worldwide with this message?

We don’t have enough time…money…eloquence…strength…sustenance…I just don’t see how this can possibly work out…

Jesus says repeatedly to dear but oft’ dull-hearted disciples…

“YOU…you, you, you…you are witnesses of these things.
And see, I AM…I AM (remember I AM, burning bush, Moses…his response…and his better response? Remember – ex.4 – “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”) ** wink, wink, nudge, nudge**

And see…I AM…sending UPON you what my Father promised
(remember, upper room, you guys all troubled hearted and me telling you that another PARACLETOS is coming…who will be with you forever? And that I need to go away for that to happen?)

I AM…sending upon you what my Father promised;
So stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he 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 so we say in our creed…
“He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty…”

And the 11 and their companions worshiped him,
And returned to Jerusalem with GREAT JOY;
And they were continually in the temple blessing God.

And on Ascension Sunday, 2016…we get to join these disciples in a very profound way…because just like James, John, Peter and Thomas, & the other companions of 2000 years ago…we join in the waiting, but the waiting is not a passive, ho-hum, thumb-twiddling wait…

Yes, it’s wait.

But it’s also some other “w” words…

Worship. That’s what we do as a worshiping community week in & week out.
– – we gather, listen to God’s heart, listen to the stories of faith and folly…and the living Word informs/animates our lives.

Whaaa? What’s going on!
It’s being open to what the 2nd Paracletos is doing as God comes alongside us and invites us and empowers us to do “greater works than the works of Jesus” (John 14:12).

Wow! Jesus…WAIT UP!
It’s seeing that our Ris’n Saviour is “on the loose” and going ahead of us…making all things new. Bringing to life things & circumstances that we, for sure, thought were destined for death! [In the 50 days of Easter, “I have seen the Lord!”]

Work…yes, it’s a work of proclaiming (and embodying) good news. Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in Jesus’ name to ALL nations, beginning in your hometown.

Q: Where in the “w” does Ascension wesonate with your life, our lives today?

WAIT = Worship. Whaa? Wow! Wait up! Work!

      • pause for reflection * * *

A New world has broken into ours
A New Community has been formed
A New creation has begun
God’s new world has begun…

Let us pray…and be the answer to our prayers…

Because Jesus ascended and sits
at the right hand of God,
a new world has broken into ours.
Justice will come for the poor,
freedom for the prisoners,
healing for the sick.
Because Jesus ascended and sits
at the right hand of God,
a new community has been formed.
Love and caring will flourish,
the abandoned and rejected will be welcomed,
all people will find a place of belonging.
Because Jesus ascended and sits
at the right hand of God,
a new creation has begun.
all that was distorted is being restored,
all that was corrupted is being renewed,
all that was broken is being made whole.
Because Jesus ascended and sits
at the right hand of God,
God’s new world has begun!