“When Things Go Poof”
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
May 8, 2016
Luke 24:44-53: 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God
Well my friends we have a conflict this morning! Not unlike any other conflict of the church year and church life, but it is a conflict that the world has placed upon us. We, as the church have inherited a holiday (yes, a Holy Day) that has been sanctioned by the world. As some would say, by Hallmark. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it as long as we understand, proclaim, and remember, that everyday is “Mother’s Day.” My friends, even if your relationship with your mother was less than stellar, you would not be where you are today without some nudging, hugging, smiling, loving, butt beating, and some “given you space” time provided by your mother. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate to honor mother’s, those who offered motherly relationships to us, and those who stepped in for our mother’s when no one else could or would.
Unfortunately, our world, our lives have painted different pictures, some not so pretty of mother/child relationships. So what do we do on this “proclaimed Mother’s Day?” I believe we must take a serious look at what we see in relationships. I believe the place we must acknowledge is that the Bible is not all about healthy, good relationships. It is about broken relationships, severed relationships, lost relationships, and relationships we wished had taken place that did not, and those that did, we wish never had. So when people tell me that scripture is not relevant to their situation, I suggest to them they haven’t looked hard enough!
You see, we are in a complex, conflicted world, not only about our earthly relationships, but also with our heavenly relationships.
This morning in our scripture from Luke we have a scripture that is “all about some relationships!” All about the relationship between Jesus, His followers (which includes us) and those who might “hear His words.” Jesus, here in His appearance to the disciples is stressing clearly that what He said to them when He was “in the flesh” is exactly what He intends for them to understand, “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.” He didn’t leave much out there did He? Again, it was a reminder of His relationship with the disciples before He died!
Then that beautiful scripture in v. 45, “Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” What in the world did He mean by that? It is simply a reminder of the story! In the Greek it is like saying, “NOW HEAR THIS AGAIN!!” Then He continues to remind us of the story of salvation “Thus it is written, 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.”
Being reminded of this progression is at the heart of the Christ/Disciple relationship. He promises them in the next several verses that what is coming is far greater than He, that “power from on high” was what was to be revealed and experienced in the life of the disciple!
Then comes the “Kicker”. v.51 “While He was blessing them, He withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.” Now how does that work for your relationship status? Poof! He raised up His hands and was carried into heaven! Ever had people talking with you and then they just fade away as if you weren’t even there? When I get really busy and have too many conversations going on and I’m not focused, I’m the “ascender!” I tend to just “get carried away” to a place I cannot describe. Sorta like being in another world.
Yet this scripture is truly about a heavenly relationship with our God in Christ that has instructed us to “carry on” with all the relationships we have been instructed with, the divine included! This is not some magical, super powered, other realm, holy experience. It is about the necessity of preparing us to be workers of the Gospel. It’s about keeping relationships in the perspective of the Holy! Because there will be people with whom you are in relationship with that will disappear, either physically or from your life in a vanishing form. But that does not discount what they taught you, instructed you and laid upon your heart.
Borrowing some profound words from Bede the Venerable, a Benedictine monk who lived in Britain in the seventh and eighth centuries, wrote these words to describe this text. “There was certainly a necessary sequence. First Christ had to shed his blood for the redemption of the world. Then through his resurrection, and ascension, he opened to human beings the gate of the heavenly kingdom. Last, he sent those who would preach to all nations throughout the world the word of life and administer the sacraments they could be saved and arrive at the joys of the heavenly fatherland.”
Relationships have a pattern my friend! Whether they are with your mother, your sibling, your father, your spouse, your friend, relationships are bound together to tell a story of significance.
As Christians, we are bound by the relationship with the Holy, with God in Christ in a way we must always work to maintain. Jesus gave us that example both in His earthly life stories and in His post-resurrection stories that this relationship must continue.
So, we as the church, as professing Christians, are slated with the task of continually living out our Holy relationships with those around us.
Therefore my friends, I challenge you, to work on maintaining your relationships in a way that produce a wonderful outcome, even if the one with whom you are in relationship vanishes in one way or another. For the relationships are not based on the flesh but on the heart!
Amen and Amen.