Whenever we Christians are asked to“tell what we know” to those who don’t share our faith, we should first speak of the mercy of God. Sometimes we’re quicker to talk about God’s rules and the church’s. We’re tempted to condemn and admonish the wayward. But when Jesus himself gave last-minute instructions to his disciples, he didn’t say a word about how to behave. Instead, Jesus pointedly says that lives change when the forgiveness of sins is announced. Forgiveness comes first, not the change. Did any of us get that message growing up?
Forgiveness of sin and triumph over death are the core messages of Christianity. This is why Jesus came and taught, suffered, died and rose. If we forget to mention this in our rush to the rules, we withhold the fruit and offer the rind. People who know they’ve got a second chance may turn around. If there’s no chance, why bother?
Why is our witness a strong theme in the feast of the Ascension? How do you testify to the forgiveness of sin?
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world, the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
The Scripture (Luke 24: 50-53) Jesus is Taken up to Heaven
Then he led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven. And they were on their knees, worshipping him. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God.
A man was wandering carelessly without looking where he was going. The result was he fell into a well. The well was deep and dark, and the dirt and slime clung to the man. He knew that he could perish in this horrible place. The God of the Old Testament, the God of the Law, came and said, “If you had only kept on the right path, you would not have ended up like this. You have strayed from the straight and narrow and now you are suffering for it. One day you will be given a rescuer”. Allah then came and looked down at the man and said, “It is the will of Allah. Fate has brought you here. You could not escape from this whatever you did. But it may be my will that you get out again”. Buddha looked down on the man and said, “Smile, for it is all in the mind. Cleanse your mind and everything will be all right”. Jesus said nothing. He descended into the mud and mire. He experienced the dark, the pain, the discomfort. He was there in the depths taking hold of the man. Then, through great efforts that cost him dearly, Jesus rose and when he ascended he took the man with him.
We are ready to show our responsibility, as a member of the diverse family of humankind.
We are committed to reflect, worship, and serve, as a member of the Christian family.
We rejoice in the love, security, and responsibility, which is ours as members of the human family.
We will stand beside those family members who are tested, afraid, or have suffered loss. Amen
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