I apologize for the delay in uploading the video links for this week. Our video camera abruptly stopped working half way through the recording. We need to order a replacement battery which will take time to arrive. Jason and I both use ancient/6 year old cell phones so recording on them isn’t a viable option. I will try to record using our laptop tomorrow. Our A/V department consists of Jack’s old video camera from the Christmas he turned 12 and well – it just got tired! We are operating on a shoestring budget and a wing and a prayer! Thank you for your understanding.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I may have mentioned it a time or 3,000. I struggle with change. I have always struggled with change. Change has a way of sending me for a loop! Even seemingly insignificant changes can bug me – A LOT.
I know this about myself – so I plan accordingly. I make adjustments for this particular personality “quirk.”
My cell phone is over 6 years old – but I really – really don’t want a new phone. (Yes – I am a great big – massive cheapskate – but there are other important reasons too.) I understand how my current phone works. Well – actually – I don’t really know how it works. But after 6 years together my phone and I have come to an understanding of sorts. And most of the time we can live together in relative peace and harmony. We have learned how to get along! A new phone would disrupt this harmony – because it would come into my life and bring lots and lots of change with it. And I don’t like change. I am change averse.
And please – whatever you do – don’t run software updates on my computer! I despise that with every ounce of my being! I mean seriously – I happily left work on Sunday and my computer looked one way and I turn in on Monday morning and now it looks completely and utterly different. And I am just supposed to adjust. Or to – you know – think that you have done me a kindness or that this has improved my life. I think not! Because now I can’t find ANYTHING!
And I am left sending huffy texts to Jason begging him (okay demanding) that he make my computer look like it used to because I liked it that way! (Jason just LOVES receiving those texts!)
I am not a big fan of transitions either. Because – you know – transitions involve change!
When we get together with our gloriously awesome extended family – I truly look forward to seeing everyone for weeks. I have the best in-laws in the universe. These people are the absolute BEST. I love the laughter – the conversation – and everything that comes with our great – big extended family gatherings. But that first hour – well – if I am honest – it all feels like it is just a bit too much to me.
So I have learned that I need to build in time and space for me to adjust so that I don’t end up coming across as an evil troll! (Well – so that I don’t end up coming across as more of an evil troll than I want to anyway.)
I have always been amazed by the way some people can just roll with change. The way some people just go with the flow when life brings changes their way just plain dazzles me. They leave me in complete and utter awe!
In our Gospel reading for this week we heard about a great – big – massive change that happened in the disciples’ lives. The Bible tells us when Jesus returned to heaven – he ascended right in front of the disciples. One moment Jesus was standing with them – talking to them and teaching them and the next Jesus was ascending into heaven right before their very eyes!
Talk about a shocking change.
Yes – Jesus knew that he was going to need to leave his disciples one day. So Jesus had tried – again and again to prepare the disciples for this incredible day. But the disciples were still bewildered by this turn of events. And honestly who wouldn’t be? It wasn’t like this was something that you see every day!
The disciples stood there with tears in their eyes and sorrow in their hearts as they watched Jesus leaving them until they could no longer see him at all.
Uncertain of what was going to happen next and probably hoping if they stood there long enough Jesus would come back – the disciples continue to stand gazing into the sky – long after Jesus disappeared from sight. In fact – they stand there for such a long time that two angels of the Lord come and ask them – why they are standing there staring up into heaven.
The angels certainly knew why the disciples were standing there staring up at the sky. The angels must have understood how shocked the disciples were. After all – the Savior of the world doesn’t ascend into heaven right in front of you every day.
And – God understands too. That’s why the angels were there. God sent the angels to get the disciples moving. To help the disciples process the changes that had happened in their lives. Because the disciples just can’t stay there gazing up into heaven for the rest of their lives.
They can’t stand there longing for what was – and yearning for what they have lost. They can’t remain focused on the past. They have to begin to move forward.
It is time!
They have to get on with their lives. Yes – their lives have changed dramatically – but it is time for them to begin anew. It is time for them to take what Jesus taught them during their 3 years together and get to work in the world. They have incredibly important work to do in God’s world. Jesus has called them to be his witnesses “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
The angels came to remind the disciples there was work to be done and they needed to get started. And get started they did. The stories of the disciples’ powerful witness are the stuff of legend.
Peter preached in Jerusalem. Thomas shared the Good News of God’s grace, love, and mercy in India – while Andrew witnessed in Greece and Turkey. Philip preached in North Africa. Matthew is thought to have taken Jesus’ message to Ethiopia. And James witnessed in Syria. Jesus’ disciples answered his call to share the Good News of God’s amazing love, grace, and mercy. They were Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.
And they quite literally changed the world and the lives of the millions upon millions of people. Think of it – because the disciples were courageous enough to take those first – brave bold steps into the world after Jesus ascended into heaven – we are Christians. If the disciples had refused to adapt or change – none of us would know the hope and peace that come from knowing we are the beloved, forgiven, redeemed children of God.
If the disciples had refused to adapt to the changes life threw their way – none of us would be Christians!
We too are living through a time of great change and transition. The last time we were able to gather together for in person worship was two months ago. And when we gather together again in our sanctuary on June 7th – worship will be dramatically different from what we are used to. From what is familiar. From what is comfortable. From what most of us would prefer!
Social distancing is so annoying. Masks fog up our glasses! Hand sanitizer dries out our hands. Communion juice instead of communion wine. The deacon in street clothes instead of an alb! No hymns! No chanting! No choir! No coffee hour! And where are our “regular” seats! Someone moved our regular seats!
We are being asked to change. To adapt. To be different. And this is hard. Actually it can be really – really – really hard!
It would be easy for us – to get stuck – sort of like the disciples were with our eyes fixed on what was. It would be so very easy for us to spend our days longing for what was familiar. To yearn for what we know best.
But we cannot. We are being called into a new future.
Yes it will be different. It will feel strange. We will be asked to adapt and grow as individuals and as a Christian community. We will need to be creative – perhaps very – very creative! We may be asked to do things for others that we would rather not do. We might have to make concessions! There will likely be growing pains. We will make mistakes and we will need to be patient with one another. Very loving – very patient – very kind. Very understanding as we move through these weeks of change and transition that are ahead of us.
But we do not go into this future alone. Our God goes with us. And our God has blessed us with wonderful traveling companions. We have our Lord and we have one another. We can do this. We can do this together with our Lord. Truly this is Good News! Amen.