Sunday, May 16, 2010

Up, Up and Away

Readings: Seventh Sunday in Easter, Year C

Jesus, whom his disciples loved, had been killed by crucifixion, a form of execution well-known for its pain and humiliation. After this horrific shame, he appeared to his disciples in a hyper-physical living form, able to enter rooms without passing through doors or walls, yet still able to eat food with them, and to touch them and be touched by them. These meetings and instructions went on for some time, the traditional "forty days," as it is written. And now, on this Sunday, we commemorate his leaving them.

And what an exit he made! Rising up from among them and into the clouds where they could see him no more. It was an exit that did not leave them sad, but rather triumphant. Their teacher who had lost his life, had won the sky!

And someday, when it was their turn, they would win it, too. This death thing, is just a phase. They would get through it. They would get over it. And what happens next, well, that would be too glorious to describe.

The promise of Christianity, and the hope of Christians, is that even though you are some 30 generations removed from those who witnessed Christ's ascension, your ultimate destiny is the same as the destiny of those witnesses. Because, despite all appearances to the contrary, ultimately God is in control. The entire Universe, and all the good and bad in it, is on loan to you for a time, in order for you to become yourself and then return to the One who made you.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Sounds like some nutty magical thinking. Those who witnessed the event, would answer, "Yes, but I was there. I saw it. I felt it. It's really true!"

Two thousand years later, we have some scant record of their testimony. Yet we live in the world they changed, because of what they experienced. In this age of skepticism, maybe it's time to be a little skeptical of skepticism itself. Maybe it's time to be more open-minded to the proposition that things are actually a good deal better than you think.

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