Ascension

Where is the Soul of the Church?

Just before he was betrayed, captured, and crucified, Jesus warned his disciples that he would be leaving them. In his extended prayer (John 17) Jesus reveals a key concept: just as God was present in the world through Jesus, so also, Jesus will continue to be present in the world through his Church. In John 17:13-17, Jesus says that his Church will be in the world, but not of it. How do we understand Jesus? Simply, he was a man who was in the world, but not of it. He was fully human, but also fully divine. He was a citizen of heaven, yet also a resident of first century Palestine. Imagine three over lapping circles: The top circle represents Jesus’ divine nature (fully God). The bottom left, his life and physical presence among us (fully man). The third circle represents the world he came to save (John 3:16). Now that Jesus has gone back to heaven, his church takes over the bottom left circle — we are now the physical presence of Christ in our community. God is still on top, overlapping our circle. The world is still to our right, overlapping the church and, through the Holy Spirit, the divine circle. The soul of the church lies where the three circles over lap. Note that this Soul is not in the safe part of the circle with the majority of the church’s programs and concerns. It is out in the dangerous intersection of our holy God and the chaotic world.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Eastertide 7
Ascension Sunday

Ascending and Descending

I just noticed it for the first time; instead of angels, there are two men in white robes sending the disciples back home after Jesus ascends (verse 10, Acts 1:6-14). And, the men aren’t floating above the heads of the disciples, but standing beside them. Luke then reminds us of the geography; the disciples need to walk down hill in order to ender the city of Jerusalem. Once in the city, they don’t go to the posh neighborhood on the upper Northwest corner. They go to the upper room which was conveniently near the market place center of the city. We are being told, by all this body language, that the proper response to the reality of God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ is to go focus on the mundane. What do people in the city need? Is is possible that those beside us are angels in disguise? How do we treat the people we live with, knowing that as we feed and clothe the poor, and visit the sick and imprisoned, we are serving the Lord of Heaven (Matthew 25:31-46)?

 

Another thing people often miss, is that there are women in the Upper Room. As the disciples wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit, they fellowshipped, shared bread, and pray with a crowd of about 120 believer. Half of these may have been women. They are mentioned here because they will a significant role in the day to day life of the church the Holy Spirit will create, that is, they will be in leadership.

 

Sunday, June 1, 2014
Easter 7
Ascension of Jesus
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