Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

May 2016

We Worship As Presbyterians

We Worship as Presbyterians

During a Presbyterian worship service a man began to be moved by the Spirit. Out loud he said "Amen!" People around him were a little disturbed. Then louder he said, "Hallelujah!" A few more people were becoming disturbed. Louder still he shouted "Praise Jesus!" An usher moved quickly down the aisle. He bent over and whispered to the man, "Sir!. Control yourself!" The man exclaimed, "I can't help it. I got religion!!!" To which the usher responded, "Well you didn't get it here!"
How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

You might be a Presbyterian if:
When the spirit comes upon you in power, you don't raise your hands and shout Hallelujah, rather you scratch your chin, turn to your neighbor and whisper "hmmm, . . . that was a good point."
You think the phrase "frozen chosen” is a compliment.
When asked to solve a problem, the first action of a Presbyterian is to form a committee. The second action is the form a subcommittee.
One things Presbyterians are able to do is to laugh at ourselves. How do you know you are in a Presbyterian Church - everyone is sitting on the back pew. There are lots of jokes about us - and we can laugh and snicker at them because we know they are true! We as Presbyterians have unique and special ways of worship and of government and today we gather to celebrate our life as Christians who worship and work in Presbyterian manner.
This Sunday gives us an opportunity to talk about and learn about this Presbyterian idea. Being Presbyterian is like anything else, the more we learn about what that means, the better we understand who we are and why we do things the way we do, and the more sense it makes.
So let us start off by briefly reviewing our history. We trace our history back to Martin Luther in the 1500s when Luther pulled away from the Catholic Church and this started a whole chain events which spawned many of the denominations we are familiar with. John Calvin read Luther’s writing and he became the founder of what was known as the ‘reformed’ movement - meaning simply that what was once the Catholic Church was being ‘reformed’ into something new. John Knox from Scotland went to study under Calvin and went back to Scotland where he began this new movement in the church based on Calvin’s teachings and that became the Presbyterian Church. “Presby” means elder and our main difference from any other denomination is our form of government. We are known as a ‘bottom’ up type government and we are the only major denomination that is governed in that manner. Each church has a group which governs it - the session. The session elects a representative to go to Presbytery meetings where the representatives vote on issues of the church. The Presbytery elects representatives which go every 2 years to General Assembly where larger issues of the church are discussed and voted on. And if that sounds a lot like the government of the United States, it is because many signers of the Declaration of Independence and framers of the constitution were Presbyterian and it is a documented fact that the government of this new country was based on the Presbyterian system. While all other denominations have the system of Bishops and District Superintendents and Regional Directors and such which direct how local churches conduct their business, we have nothing like that in our system. All decisions are made by representatives from the churches who sit on committees and make recommendations and then are voted on. This was basically the system that was set up in the church right from the beginning. When the church started forming right after Pentecost, the church was made up of small congregations which met in homes and each home would elect an elder. The elders would then meet together to determine policy and doctrine for the churches and ensure that these scattered house churches stayed on the same page theologically. Each local congregation would elect deacons whose job was to care for the people. They would collect food, take it to the poorer members and generally were there to care for the needs of the people in their congregation. Basically the same system that we use today.
So government is the first unique thing about being Presbyterian. Our worship is not completely unique but certainly is modeled after a certain style. We are liturgical in our worship which is styled originally after the form God set up in the Old Testament for the Jews - liturgical simply means that the people in the pews participate in worship. The other style of worship is called “revival style” and consists of singing several hymns in the beginning of the service, then prayer and offering and sermon at the end followed usually by an alter call. But our style is called liturgical where we read and pray together. The order and parts are based on Isaiah 6 and the call of Isaiah. And truly nothing in our worship is arbitrary. Everything we do and the way we do it has a scriptural basis. As much as we often laugh about our Book of Order - the rulebook - every portion of our Book of Order has a scriptural reference.
Presbyterians have often been called ‘people of the book’ because we can trace everything we do and how we do it back to the ‘The” book - the Bible. But out theology is also adamant that we look look at the whole of scripture - the whole of the Bible. While we may use specific sections as we’ve mentioned earlier - the history of the early church to determine our government, the call of Isaiah to design our worship and so forth, we believe that it is imperative that scripture be looked as an entire story - we look at all of the scripture and look at over all ideas and over all themes and the over all message - for us the Bible is a history of how God has dealt with and continues to deal with his people. We are very much big picture in our way of thinking rather than plucking out bits and pieces here and there to determine what we believe.
We are here in a Presbyterian church worshipping in a Presbyterian way, governing ourselves as Presbyterians. But we also understand that this is just one way among many to worship and serve God - we do not think that we have any great lock on the truth, that we are ‘right’ above everyone else. But that everyone who believes in and worships and serves the risen Christ is part of God’s people. We just exhibit one way among many to do that. And that is why as we come together to participate in this communion, we always say - This is the Lord’s table and he invites everyone to share in this meal with him.
We are Presbyterian, and today is simply a day to remember that means something.
Amen!

Elijah is Affirmed

Elijah Is Affirmed


As you all know, Chick-Fil-A is not open on Sundays. They have never opened on Sundays. Their statement about opening on Sundays says that they close on Sundays so that their employees can spend their day with their families. However, last weekend the Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Orlando broke their time honored tradition. There were two restaurants close to the location of the shooting and to the facility which was processing and collecting blood donations for the many who were injured. The managers of the local stores saw the number of 1st responders still working the scene, saw the long lines of people waiting to give blood and they knew these people had to eat. So they opened the Chick-Fil-A’s, prepared as much food as they could and gave it to the people waiting in lines and working the crime scenes. Of course they were descended upon by the media and both restaurant managers asked the media not to print anything about what they were doing. Their statement was: “We are not doing this to bring attention to ourselves, but simply to meet a need and give glory to God.” And for all of us here today, that should be the theme of our lives - We are not here to to bring attention to ourselves, but to give glory to God.”
There is a really interesting story in the ministry of Jesus. He and the disciples are walking down the road and they see a blind man - a man who was blind since birth. The disciples asked Jesus: “Why is this man blind? Did he sin or did his parens sin?” This was a common belief during the time of the Jesus - all tragedy, all illness, all birth defects were caused by the sins of someone. Jews even believed that babies could sin in the womb and therefore cause physical problems for themselves. But Jesus tells the disciples, “No one sinned. Watch and see how God is glorified through this man.” In other words, Jesus is going to use this mans blindness to glorify God and to affirm that he truly is the Messiah.
Jesus walked over to this blind man, stooped down, spit into the dirt and made some mud, spread the mud over the mans eyes and told him to go and wash it off - and if he would do this he would be able to see. The blind man did exactly as Jesus had asked and he was able to see. Now this created a great stir in town. Everyone knew this man had been blind since birth; everyone had watched him grow up; everyone knew his parents - there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this man had always been blind. So their first reaction was that there was a new person in town who looked just like the blind man but he could see. The blind man quickly corrected everyone and said, “No. I really am the man who was blind.” And he proceeds to tell the story of how he was able to see.
This then came to the attention of the religious leaders and the blind man who could now see was brought before the religious officials along with his parents. The religious leaders questioned the parents to make sure the former blind man was telling the truth and yes they affirmed this was their son. But they were afraid of the religious leaders and wouldn’t answer any other questions - they just simply said, “We don’t know anything except he is our son. Ask him what happened.” The religious leaders asked the former blind fella what had happened and he told his story once again. The religious leaders then asked, “Who was this guy?” “I don’t know” said the former blind guy. “All I know is that I was blind and now I can see. All I know is that I am glorifying God for what he has done for me.” Just as Jesus has said, “This man was healed to bring glory to God.” And that is what he did. But in the eyes of many, he also affirmed the suspicion of many that Jesus just might be the Messiah!
Which brings us to the Elijah story for today - because we are spending the summer with the prophet Elijah. Elijah is a prophet sent by God to the king of God’s people - King Ahab. Ahab had led God’s people away from the worship of God to the worship of the pagan god Baal. God had Elijah tell Ahab that until the Israelite people returned to the true worship of God, there would be no rain and the country would suffer a great drought. And it did. Elijah is now staying with a widow and her son in


Zarapeth and because of her generosity to Elijah, God is supplying her with enough bread and water and oil to sustain them throughout the drought.
Now, in our way of thinking this generous widow who is doing what God has called her to do; who is sharing the little she has with Elijah, who up to this point was a complete stranger…. we would think that God would protect her from anything bad happening to her. Surely that is how we would like things to work… we do what God wants and nothing bad will happen. But we know that is not true - and this is another of the many accounts in the Bible where “Bad things happen to good people.” Something we struggle with as well.
The widow’s son becomes ill and after some time, dies. The widow’s first reaction is a pretty typical one - God is punishing me for my sin. So let’s clear this up right now - God does not send tragedy to punish you for you sin. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God does not take away a loved one to punish us. End of story. We can love God with all our heart and our soul and our mind and tragedy still happens. The whys are beyond our understanding and that is just something we have to accept.
Even Elijah, a prophet of God, a man who is suppose to have a special connection to the words of God, doesn’t understand. Such a human moment we see in this story as Elijah takes the boy in his arms and goes into the boys room and lays him on his bed and looks up at God and says “Why?” “Why God?” “This doesn’t make any sense? This woman has given all she has to help me out. How can such a thing happen?”
Elijah is as confused as we are!
So he prays. Now I want to caution you. This is not a story about if you only pray hard enough things will turn out the way you want. This is not a story that teaches that if things don’t happen the way you want it is because you haven’t prayed hard enough. We are not in the manipulating God business. Outcomes are not up to us. God hears our prayers - inadequate as they are. But God does what God does and we don’t understand most of the time. But don’t thinki it is because of our inadequacies that bad things happen - or that God doesn’t reverse the tragedy.
Yes, in this case he did. In this case, Elijah cries out to God and the widow’s son comes back to life. He has been healed.
And then we learn the purpose of this story - the same purpose the boy born blind’s sight was restored - this is an opportunity for God to affirm who Elijah was just as the boy affirmed Jesus as his healer - this is proof Elijah was truly God’s prophet; was truly sent by God. It gave God an opportunity for the widow - and for Elijah - to understand that Elijah was really a prophet for God. And then Elijah gave glory go God.
Elijah often suffered from a lack of confidence in who he was. Elijah often felt like he wasn’t really called by God; he often felt like he wasn’t doing what he was suppose to; he often felt like he he was a failure. Here was God assuring Elijah, that yes he was doing what God wanted him to do. And it gave Elijah an opportunity to glorify God.
We have to understand who we are. We are children of God. All of us. We belong to God. We are to have confidence in that. We are to never question our relationship with God. That’s hard because we are infamously hard on ourselves. We don’t think we measure up. We are always hearing we could do more and we probably could. We make mistakes. We sin. We question God. We admittedly don’t understand.
But none of that disqualifies us from knowing for certain that we belong to God. We belong to God. And if we pay attention, God is forever affirming that for us. A word we hear in our mind during prayer - or maybe just out of the blue; a word from someone else; a feeling of peace that comes over us in an unusual time; a realization of what God has done for us. All affirmations from God that we do belong to him regardless of the fact that we know we don’t always do what we should. Doesn’t matter - we belong to God.
Just knowing that, then, should make us praise God throughout our day; throughout our life.
Just like the boy born blind, just like the widow at Zarepath, just like the prophet Elijah - we hear God’s affirmation - and we praise God!

Amen!

Pentecost!


THE STORY OF PENTECOST

Last week, we left the disciples on the mountain having just watched Jesus ascend into heaven. As Jesus, ascended, angels appeared to the disciples and told them to go back to Jerusalem and to wait because Jesus was going to send them the Holy Spirit. The disciples didn’t know what the angels were talking about - they didn’t understand what this Holy Spirit was or what it had to do with them, but they did as the angels told them to do. They went back to Jerusalem, back to the room they had been hiding in since the crucifixion and they waited some more.
It is important for us to remember that the disciples were Jews - they were faithful Jews who still observed all the Jewish laws; they were faithful to observe the Jewish Sabbath and they were faithful to practice all of the Jewish festival days. In the Torah - the first 5 books of the Old Testament - God instituted for the Jews days and seasons that were to be set apart and were times when the Jews were obligated to stop and to observe these days. Most of the time the purpose of these days was, and still is for practicing Jews, to remember important events in Israel’s history and/or to dedicate or thank God for something in particular. It is the same reason we have special days and special seasons in our church year - each one of them is designed to remind us of a significant event in our history as the people of God - most of those days for us, however, are important events in the life of Jesus; events that are important for us to understand our faith.
When we think about the Jewish feasts and festivals, Passover is the special festival we are most familiar with and was designed to remind the Jews of how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt. But there were several others feasts and festivals that were given to God’s people and the Jews emphatically were told by God they were to participate in these special times. And the people took this seriously - God set up these spe
cial times and told his people to do what he told them - and they did! And orthodox Jews still do!
During the time we call Holy Week and Easter, the Jews were participating in the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We are familiar with Passover but not so much this Feast of Unleavened Bread where Jews would gather at the end of Passover to thank God for a successful barley crop. The people gathered with a loaf of unleavened barley bread and a sheaf of barley and dedicated them to God understanding that God was the one who helped them have a successful crop. 50 days later was the Jewish festival called Pentecost - so keep in mind there is the Jewish festival of Pentecost and a Christian celebration of Pentecost and they are two totally separate celebrations. While our Pentecost began at the Jewish Pentecost, we remember them for two very different reasons! Jewish Pentecost was 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It celebrated two things - one was the dedication of the harvest and to ask God to continue to bless their crops. This festival also celebrated the law of Moses - the first 5 books of the Old Testament - what the Jews called Torah. For Jews the torah is the most sacred book - for them it contains the actual words of God written down by Moses. The Torah was their life - it told them who they were as a people, it told them how to live and it identified them as belonging to God. At Pentecost, the Jews came together to remember that God loved them so much that he gave them his words in the Law. And remember when you hear or read those words, “The Law” it is not referring to the 10 commandments, but to everything God said and all the stories found in the first 5 books of the Old Testament.
On Pentecost - Pente means 50 - 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Jews gathered on Sunday morning - all the Jews from around the world -
all of them. Each Jew would bring a loaf of leavened Barley bread and at exactly 9am all the Jews would raise their loaf of bread to heaven, the Priest would pray thanking God for the harvest and asking for a successful crop to come - and at the end of the prayer the loaves would be left behind and given to the poor.
This particular Pentecost that we remember today, the Pentecost about 2000 years ago that occurred 10 days after the ascension of Jesus, as all the Jews gathered at the temple, including the disciples
of Jesus which we are told numbered 120 persons - something different happened. Now remember
that this is a feast of obligation - 1000s of Jews from around the world were at the temple because during this time in history there were Jews living as far away as Spain, all the way around the Mediterranean Sea, up as far as northern Greece, down through Africa as far south as Ethiopia, over to Libya, in Egypt. All of these Jews traveled to Jerusalem and were there at the temple to present their offering. But this year as they raised their loaf of bread and the priest began the prayer, they heard a loud ‘boom’, and violent wind began to blow through

the temple and for a moment everything stopped. Everyone dropped their loaf of bread and began to look around. What was going on? Then fire came down out of the sky - the Bible calls it tongues of fire - came down and landed on the shoulders of the disciples. The wind stopped and immediately the disciples began to turn around and tell the people around them about Jesus Christ.
Now think about the amazement of this. First we have the disciples who have up until this moment been hiding for fear that someone would find out they were disciples of Jesus - because they figured if the Jewish authorities found out they were followers, they would meet the same fate as Jesus. And now, in front of everyone, they are testifying about Jesus. The second miracle here is that all these people from around the world are hearing the disciples in their own language. So the disciples are speaking in Aramaic, and everyone is hearing in their own language - Egyptian and Spanish and Latin and Greek, Ethiopian - whatever their native language was. These tongues of fire represented the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised to the disciples that day on the mountain as he ascended into heaven. He said, “I am going to send you my spirit to help you!” And we see the remarkable change in these disciples that this spirit caused. These fearful, timid fishermen were boldly preaching the gospel of Jesus not caring who heard them or who knew they were followers of Jesus - and the spirit was transforming their words so that all could understand what the disciples were saying.
You see the stark contrast to the story we read in Genesis? The story of the tower of Babel? Here people have decided to build a tower to the heavens - not to go see God, but to show God that they could do all this great work without God’s help. They were sort of thumbing their noses at God saying, “See we don’t need you. We can do great things on our own!” So God said, “Think so? Well how’s this for you then?” So God ‘confuses’ their language - meaning all of them started talking in different languages and they could no longer communicate with each other enough to continue building the tower.
But now, thousands of years later, the spirit of Jesus comes to the people and on this day, through God’s miraculous power, people begin to understand each other. Jesus is bringing back together what was once torn apart. God makes all things right!
But think about God’s work here and God’s impeccable timing. When Jews from all over the world are gathered together, God’s spirit comes down and gives the disciples the courage and the confidence to begin to teach people about Jesus. God makes it possible for everyone to understand what the disciples are saying. And 3000 of those who heard the gospel believed. Now, all of these people who came to believe also received the spirit of God and when they leave the Temple they are going to go back to their homes - around the world - with the spirit giving them the courage and confidence to teach those in their home towns about the Good News of Jesus Christ. So with this one event, God has begun the spread the story of Jesus around the world. And in these communities, groups of believers begin to come together into churches which begin to do the work of God in their local areas. And these churches then begin to teach and more people heard and the spread of Jesus began! What a wondrous event!
This is why Pentecost is often referred to as the Birthday of the Church because it is the coming of God’s spirit, just as Jesus promised as he ascended into heaven, that inspired these 120 people, which then inspired the 3000, who then inspired countless others in their home towns and the people of God, the followers of Christ begin to let their light shine wherever they went!
So today we celebrate the coming of the holy spirit, the tongues of fire that came down and began the spread of Christ’s message around the world and we celebrate the beginning of Christ’s church which is the vehicle by which Christ’s work could be continued. And even more important, we celebrate God’s spirit which has come to live in each of us - to inspire us and motivate us and uplift us and give us the courage and the confidence to to continue this work began 2000 years ago. To continue the spread of God’s message, to continue Christ’s work of healing and reconciling this broken world.
Celebrate the spirit with each and every one of you, and if you just let go and let that spirit work, God can continue the amazing work began in that temple on Pentecost Sunday with a loud boom and a strong wind and tongues of fire! Amen!

The Ascension


The Ascension


In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that the good news of the cross is folly for those who don't believe. In other words, the stories that are so much a part of who we are,just seem silly to unbelievers, almost like fairy tales. The stories that are essential to our faith; the stories that teach us and instruct us about God are pretty unbelievable to those who are not part of the church. Think about the Biblical happenings from an outsiders view point; from someone who didn't grow up with Moses and David and Joshua as part of their basic teachings; who don’t have faith in who God is. We have a guy being swallowed by a fish? How about Elijah riding to heaven in a chariot of fire? We have Jacob wrestling all night with an angel. Doesn’t sound like something that is very real. Yet these preposterous accounts are integral to Christianity. And from a practical, scientific, believability viewpoint, even the life of Jesus is just as absurd; dead people rising from the dead, multiplying food, disease healing. An outsider would just shake their head and say "You believe what?". To someone not grounded in our faith, it just seems like foolishness - just like the Apostle Paul says. But as believers we understand that God’s work is all about miraculous happenings; incidents that are hard to believe. Jesus was born of a virgin. His ministry began with the voice of God calling out from heaven. Jesus spends three years healing people, raising people from the dead - performing miracles. He then gets killed and unbelievably raises from the dead and comes back to life. And today, we celebrate another in the strange but true stories of Jesus - his ascension.

Today is referred to as Ascension Sunday. Today however is not the actual day of the ascension, but the Sunday right after that event. We see our common number 40 as the ascension was 40 days after the resurrection. So actual Ascension Day is always on a Thursday -the Resurrection is always on a Sunday so reason follows that 40 days later is always a Thursday. So last Thursday, just a few days ago, was the day about 2000 years ago, that Jesus ascends into heaven. A miraculous and wondrous event. And of course you need to hear my annual rant about how we as the church should be making a bigger deal about commemorating this important day in the life of Jesus; this important day in helping us understand all what Jesus has done for his people. We make a big deal about his birth; we make a big deal about his death and resurrection; God came to earth in the form of a human named Jesus so that he could take on our sin for us. We make a big deal about his death and resurrection celebrating Easter Sunday where we remember how he suffered and died on the cross to forgive our sin; he rose from the dead to give us eternal life ---- but without the ascension we never make it to live with God. We would remain here on earth just as we have been talking about for the last 40 days. Jesus spent the 40 days after the resurrection on earth. But through his ascension where he rises to sit at the right hand of the Father, we too, get to go and spend eternity with God. The ascension is the completion of the work of Jesus which insures our eternal life in the presence of God - and that is a big deal!!

Let's remember the story of the ascension. Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday - the day we call resurrection Sunday. He spends 40 days with his disciples, teaching and instructing them. Of these stories of Jesus’ time with the disciples, the last account we have of this instructional time was on the beach in Galilee. The disciples had gone fishing, and Jesus met them on the beach. Around the campfire Jesus and the disciples share a meal together and Jesus spends some time making sure the disciple Peter understands that he has been forgiven. Peter is carrying around a lot of guilt over the incident where three times he denied knowing Jesus. Jesus knew that Peter could never fulfill what God was calling him to do in the spreading of the Gospel with all that guilt clinging to him A reminder for us as well that we cannot truly serve God if we are carrying around a lot of guilt and don't, or won't, except our forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Jesus then spends some alone time with Peter helping Peter understand he will have a leadership role in the foundation of the church and that his task will not be easy.

Jesus then leaves the disciples for a while and the next time they hear from him, Jesus is calling the disciples to join him on top of the mountain. Once they get up the mountain, Jesus explains to them what is going to happen. He is going to leave them for good - but this is a good thing Jesus tells them. It is good because once he

goes and is at the right hand of the Father, Jesus will be able to be the advocate for all his people. This is really a simplistic picture, but in essence Jesus sits by God, and when we sin Jesus turns to God and says, "it's OK. They are one of ours." and God ignores our wrong. This is a great deal for us who have faith because we know that not only all of our past sin is forgiven, but our future sin as well – and that is because Jesus is sitting on the right hand of God taking up for us. But there us a cost. The forgiveness is through grace, it is a free gift but God demands a response from us; he expects us to live a life of gratitude where we respond to what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. As Jesus has the disciples on the mountain, Jesus looks at the them, and at us, and says " OK. I'm going and that will be good, but now you have to take over my job here on earth. Now you have to go and do all the things I was doing. Your job is now to teach all the things I taught you." So here's the deal. Through Jesus we get life forever with God, but in the mean time we have to do Jesus' work.

With those words the disciples watch Jesus bodily ascend into the heaven. Another of the wondrous, hard to believe moments in the scriptures. It is hard to explain a man bodily rising up into the sky all on his own. But sometimes I think this directive of Jesus to go out and do his work is sometimes harder to believe than the amazing hard to believe miracles and events; harder to believe that this amazing moment of watching Jesus ascend into heaven.. Sometimes it is easier to believe Moses really parted the Red Sea than to believe Jesus really expects us to do what he did. Maybe we fit in here with the unbelievers the Apostle Paul talks about when he mentions that the stories are folly to unbelievers. It is so hard for us to really think that Jesus wants us to share the Gospel and to teach the good news to the world? Are you thinking “Surely that doesn’t mean me?”
But the answer is, Yes – it does. For we have to grasp the understanding that we here in this congregation are the chosen people of God – chosen not only for Salvation, but chosen to be set apart for the express purpose to be agents of God in this world. That is what this story is truly all about. Reminding us that Jesus’ ascension was not only the completion of his work for our salvation, but the beginning of our work as God’s people. Unbelievable to think he wants
us to do the work of Jesus.
Jesus makes one more statement before he flies into the sky – He said, “This is going to seem like an awesome responsibility. This is going to seem like an overwhelming task. But don’t worry. I’ll be there for you.” And this is what he says to us. Jesus says, “I expect you to do this. To carry my message to the world. – But don’t worry. I will equip you. I will give you what you need. You don’t have to do it on your own.” And so for us the first step is believing that first and foremost we are supposed to do this and secondly – and most important – Jesus really will help you do it.
The secret to being able to fulfill our responsibility is faith in the
living power of Jesus. Jesus may have bodily ascended into heaven but he promised he would give us the power necessary to do what he asked us to do. This is not folly, this is not a fairy tale, this is not just some inspiring speech, this is not for someone else, but real power to do the work of Jesus for each and every one of you – you, the chosen people of God. We cannot just be recipients of salvation; we cannot be spectators as others heed Jesus’ words – this is not an option. It is the will and direction of God for us. Go and teach the world what it means to be a believer in Christ. Believe that and believe in the power Jesus will give you to do it.
Today we celebrate the ascension! We celebrate the ascension as people who have found the stories of the Bible to be true, to be reliable and to reveal to us who God is and who we are. The result of that ascension is our everlasting life with God and the challenge to live as if we really believe we receive everything we need to do God’s work. Christ has ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God!

Amen.