Scripture: Acts 1:6-14 and John 17:1-11
Sermon: We are the answer to what Jesus prays for
The inner meaning of the story of the ascension of the risen Jesus to the right hand of God in the heavens is a challenge to understand.
Perhaps the Orthodox tradition of the divinization of humanity is helpful. Jesus' ascension is not just a reversal of the incarnation, by which he returns to the place whence he came (like the classic Western hero, whether it be Shane or the Pale Rider who at the end of the story rides off into the sun whence he came). Rather, it is a further stage in God's plan to redeem all creation, in which what is human is now itself elevated by Jesus to another level, and made to participate in God's plan and power in new and fuller ways.
Question: (How) do we feel ourselves part of the divine?
Also, Jesus is not experienced as "absent" from the disciples, even after his ascension to heaven. His name appears no less than 69 times as being present with them through the rest of the Book of Acts -- helping them to settle contentious questions that arise, guiding them in knowing their purpose and living out their mission, empowering them for work they do and miracles they perform.
Question: (How often) does the name of Jesus appear in our decisions, directions and actions as a church?
God's plan is not just for the restoration of Israel, but for the restoration of all creation to God's good purpose. According to the Gospel of John and the combined book of Luke-Acts, a) everything that has happened since the ascension of Jesus has been part of the unfolding of this purpose, and b) the church of Christ especially is called and empowered to bear witness to this unfolding in our time.
Question: (How) do we see and tell others around us about the unfolding of God's good purpose and the restoration of all creation in our time to God's good will?