Sunday – June 1, 2014

Luke 24:50-53

The Ascension of Jesus

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Elvis has left the building…

At the end of his concerts…while the crowd was still applauding and asking for yet another encore…an announcer would let everyone know that the show was over, by saying “Elvis has left the building!” Then the lights would come up and the audience would slowly follow suit, leaving the auditorium and going out into the world, to share stories of their amazing evening!

Even though Elvis has now truly left us…years later his memory and music are still celebrated by his many fans…

So what does this have to do with today’s gospel reading, and how does it relate to us as single parents, as people of faith?

In today’s gospel we hear of the Ascension of Jesus…when he was carried up to heaven, leaving his disciples amazed and filled with joy! Joy that they take with away with them to share with the world, as they tell stories of Jesus and in doing so let the Grace of God be known in the world.

Unlike Elvis however, Christ has not really left us! While memories of great performers like Elvis, as well as memories of our loved ones can live on through our love and stories of times we spent together and of the joy we shared; Christ, although ascended to heaven, lives on with us not just in memory and gospel stores, but in the world, through all of us who seek to follow him in his ministry of making the Kingdom of God a reality in our world!

Yes, Christ is still with us…through the grace of God that surrounds us just like the air, and through the faith we live out loud, as we share it with each other and the world!

Nice words, and true…we know that Christ is alive and active in our lives and our world…however, there are times when it can feel as if “Elvis has left the building”, when our responsibilities, and the challenges of our lives as single parents can weigh heavily on our shoulders and we feel as if our prayers are going unanswered, or at least just not listened to.

When this happens to us, we can feel very lonely, lost and even betrayed…most of all we can feel frustrated and hopeless, as we have to face the challenges of helping our children grow up…from learning to walk and feed themselves, to dealing with school issues, and the drama that comes with becoming a teenager, not to mention any tensions that may arise from having to deal with two separated parents and two different families that they can find themselves a part of (and sometimes in the middle of).

As the parent of a teenager who has seen her share of troubles, I have often found myself feeling as if I was praying to a God who was not paying attention…or had simply left the building! I would pray for God’s Will to be done, pray for strength, pray for things to change…to improve, but feel as if no one was listening.

The good news today is that God is always listening, that Christ has NOT left the building, but is still with us, always…walking with us through our darkest and most
frightening times, ensuring that though we may feel lonely, we are never truly alone.

As I look back now over the last few years of struggle, I realize that my prayers were answered: God’s Will was done for myself and my daughter, I was given the strength of faith to deal with the troubles in my family, as there were people in my life who gave me support, common sense advise, and compassion; and things did change as the situation did improve for myself and my daughter! Everything did not work out the way I would have liked them too…just as my life is not all I would have once hoped and dreamed it would be…but then when I prayed for God’s Will to be done, I was not praying for it to be done in MY way – but God’s…and there are times when it is best for me to simply have the humility to accept that these are not always going to be in sync.

On this day of Ascension, when we celebrate the return of Christ to heaven we can also celebrate the imminent presence of Christ in the world, both through the spirit and through each of us as we share our faith together: supporting each other in the hard times of our lives through our compassion and love, and joining together for praise and celebration for the all of the good things God has given to us…not as a reward for our own faith, but out of love for us!

It is this same kind of love that any good parent feels for their children; if our love for them was only given as a reward, based on solely on merit, it would be difficult for our children to earn it…just as God’s love is not able to be earned by us, but has been given as a great gift through Christ.

God loves us because we are his children…just as we love our children because they are ours…and while our children are not always in the same place as we are, we can never be so far separated that our love cannot reach them…not even death! In that same way, although Christ has ascended, nothing can separate us from the salvation and new life given to us through his sacrifice…as the love of Christ lives on!

Let us Pray

God, thank you for always being with us, that when Jesus ascended to heaven he did not leave us alone here on Earth, but left us with the Holy Spirit, which works with us and through us to be the Body of Christ in the World! Help us to remember that we are never alone, but that we are surrounded with your love and grace, and let us take strength from your presence in our world and in our lives. Thank you for loving us as your children, and please help us to share this love with our children, and with each other, as we face the challenges of single parenting together.

Amen

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