Friday, May 18, 2012

Stupidest. Question. Ever.

Our texts for this Ascension Sunday--our last Sunday in Eastertide before Pentecost--are Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11.  I would also recommend additionally reading 2 Kings 2:1-12 and Luke 9:28-36 if you have a chance as well, because I think they give us important context for this story (Acts 1's telling of it in particular) that help us see things we might miss otherwise.  All these texts can be found here

Welcome back to one of the weirdest Sundays of the year!  Yes, friends, it's Ascension Sunday--or, as I like to affectionately call it, "Blast Off"--the day when Jesus' feet were lifted off of the earth's soil and his body was whisked away into heaven in a scene that defies logic and challenges imagination.

I was on a retreat with some pastor friends this week, and when we got to talking about the Ascension, one of my colleagues made this insightful remark:  "I think any sermon on the Ascension should be called 'The Stupidest Question Ever.'" She was talking about the question asked by the two men in white who appeared after Jesus disappeared:  "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?"  Is this a serious question?   Jesus was just LIFTED OFF TO HEAVEN IN A CLOUD.  They watched him go--just like that--while he was still talking--midsentence, even.  Poof.  Lift off.  Dazzling show of cloud and light.  So of COURSE they're standing there looking up towards heaven--what else would theybe doing after seeing something so unfathomable?  It has to be the Stupidest Question Ever...right up there with when, at Jesus' tomb on Easter morning, two guys in white asked the women why they were looking for the living among the dead.  Well...because we were actually looking for the dead.  Jesus was dead the last time we saw him.  Now he's...what?  Floating around in the sky somewhere?

So here's the real issue:  the guys in white were likely not stupid.  So why did they ask this question?  Where did they think the apostles should be looking?  And in this lies, perhaps, our question:  to where does the Ascension inspire us to look?  Where does it leave us gazing?  To what does it redirect our eyes, our expectations, our thoughts, our lives?

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