Hi Everyone! I’m back to work part time and trying to get caught up here and on my podcast. I never posted my sermon from Memorial Day weekend (I went into labor that week, so I hope I get a pass!). It might not be super relevant at this point, but I have all my sermons archived here and I wanted to make sure I got it posted. I’ll be back with yesterday’s sermon in a bit!
Rehoboth Congregational Church (Ministerial Grounds)
May 28, 2017
All About Love
This morning we heard the story of Jesus’ Ascension. This is the story where, after his resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples after he walked with them on the road to Emmaus. Jesus helps them to understand his teachings through the scriptures and then commissions them in ministry to carry out his works throughout the world. As he is blessing them one final time, he ascended into heaven.
In the calendar of the church year, the Ascension is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which was this past Thursday. The Easter Season is complete; next week is Pentecost.
As I was reflecting on the Ascension this week, I could not help but think about my children’s sermon on Easter Sunday. The resurrection is not always the easiest concept for kids to understand (heck, it is not the easiest concept for adults to understand!), but when I asked them what happened on Easter morning, Daniel Correa – our almost-four-year-old recipient of this year’s Sunshine Award – raised his hand and said, “Jesus died, but then he came back and he told us all how much he loved us and then he went to heaven to be with God.”
And then I melted.
I love Daniel’s explanation because it simplifies something that we really can overcomplicate when we get lost in the details of the resurrection and different doctrines and theologies. In the end, Jesus was all about love. He loved his disciples, he loved the people who followed him, he loved the people he taught and he loved the people he healed. He even loved his enemies – and the people who would betray him in his most vulnerable hour. He loved those he walked with during his human lifetime and he loves us all today.
At its core, the Gospel is a story about love. Jesus showed this love over and over and over again. He showed this love by healing the sick, feeding the hungry and teaching both the inquisitive and the stubborn. He showed this love by speaking hard truths and showing his disciples how to break bread together in radical and reconciling ways. He showed this love by giving up his own life – and yet boldly proving God’s redeeming truth that death never has the final word.
I often wonder that it must have been like for the disciples in the moments and hours – even days – following the Ascension. Their worlds had been completely changed by a man who preached a different truth and proclaimed a new way of living into God’s word. In three short years, Jesus’ ministry had changed so many lives and then he was crucified, but then the tomb was empty and resurrection had prevailed and now he has ascended and what happens next?
I can only imagine what must have been going through the disciples’ minds as they tried to regroup and find their new normal. What was next for them? How would Jesus’ life, death and resurrection change the narrative of their lives and the course of the journeys they were on?
This is not a question that was simply for the disciples to ask themselves back then; I truly believe it is just as relevant for us today. What is next for us? As we reflect on the Easter season and remember the story of Jesus’ Ascension, how will our own lives be changed? How will the Gospel alter the course of the journeys we are on?
Jesus said, “You are witnesses of these things” and I believe, with all my heart, that those words were as much meant for us as they were for the disciples he was speaking to that day. Because we are. We are witness of the works Jesus did in his life. We are witnesses of his miracles, of his teachings and of his love. We are witnesses of the Church that is built on his foundation and of the countless ways it is transforming people’s lives. We are witnesses of the ways our own church is making an impact, not only in our community, but throughout the world, as well.
And now we are tasked with the sometimes difficult job of discerning how our faith – how this story, how this Church, how this Gospel – will influence our lives moving forward.
According to the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples worshipped Jesus and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. They went to the temple blessing God for all they had been given through this faith.
Their lives had been changed. A new chapter of this story was being written.
And the same is true for us, today.
Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start to summer and I think it is a wonderful time to pause and take a deep breath after what, for many of us, has been a crazy spring. Like the disciples after the Ascension, we can regroup and think about what our lives could look like, should look like, if we nurture our faith in new and transforming ways. We can slow down and fall into the relaxed cadence of summer and really give our faith the attention it needs. We can reflect on the love Jesus demonstrated in his life, death and resurrection and think about how our lives can be a reflection of this love. We can recommit ourselves to living out the Gospel in real and life-giving ways. We can pledge to not only allow our own lives to be changed, but to help change the lives of others, as well.
So may you all remember the Gospel according to Daniel Correa – that Jesus loved us so much that he died for us, came back to earth, told us he loved us one more time and then went to heaven to be with God. May your life be a reflection of this love. May you remember that you are a witness to Jesus’ love – and may you bear witness to that love in this church, within your family, in the community and throughout the world. May you, like the disciples, worship God and bless that which God has given to you. May you continue to write this story of love so that the next generation can bear witness to it, as well.
And may you get to know Jesus through the stories of the Gospel; and may this help you to understand his teachings through the scriptures as you are commissioned in ministry to carry out his works throughout the world
Thanks be to God!
 Luke 24:48, NRSV