Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Let's Get Ready

May 20th:

Let's Get Ready
May 20, 2012
Call:   Acts 1: 1-11
Text:   Acts 1: 12-17, 21-26
Read:   W&S #35

                                Let's Get Ready

Ascension Sunday is
        The most underappreciated
        The most undervalued
        The most under celebrated
Of all the Christian special days.

For on the day he ascended after his post resurrection appearances,
        Christ gave us a job to do
And despite our 2000 years of excuses, of dawdling, and of attempts to ignore it,
                Christ still expects
                Or at least still has hope      that we will do that job.

The fact that He still has hope is
        Either  comforting, encouraging, and reassuring
Or              so foolishly naïve,
that it causes us to question whether Christ was/is as sharp
                As we have always thought He was/is.

We celebrate His ascension just six weeks after Easter
        Just    Six weeks!              Just 42 days!
Wouldn't you think that
        The impact of Easter would still be powerful enough
        To make it hard for us to be indifferent to performing the job that Christ gave to us?

And wouldn't you think that celebrating the day He gave it to us
        Would be done with enthusiasm and joy
rather than with the ho hum approach that we so often see?

Our celebration has to begin with the story of that ascension

We heard it told in the call to worship
        After Christ had made forty days of post resurrection appearances
                [NOTE: 40 days would not fall on a Sunday, hence the 42];
        After Christ had ordered the disciples to remain in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit;
        After the disciples had come together and Christ had made it clear that despite their unbridled curiosity, it was not for them to know
                                The times or periods
                                That the father had set by his own authority;

After all that, After all that,
And after
Christ had commissioned, commanded, and conscripted us
        To be his witnesses in all Judea and Samaria -
                And to the ends of the earth

He was lifted up
        Taken away by a cloud.

And for the next 200 decades
        Yes, 200 decades;       20 centuries;   (about 800 generations)
        You and I               and our ancestors and our predecessors
                Have used an exorbitant amount of energy
Trying to ignore that commission;
Trying to find loopholes in that command
        And             Trying to avoid that conscription.

Why?    Why would we want to avoid what Christ charged us to do?

Why?    Because worshipping God         can be inconvenient.
Why?    Because being loving to others (what better way to witness?)
can be hard
Why?    Because sharing with others
can interfere with our self indulgence.
Why?    because we allow ourselves to think we have to do it all on our own
        Despite Christ's making it quite clear that this job was to begin
                After we had received the Holy Spirit.

It is now, six weeks, (40 or 42 days)
After our 2000th  annual celebration of the gift of Good Friday
                                And of the resurrection that followed
And yet,
It seems that we still just don't take seriously enough,
God's commission to us.

Isn't that sad? Isn't that disappointing?       Isn't that inexplicable?
        For if we truly believe in God, how can we not trust and obey God

It appears              that we need help
A look at the example the disciples set,        can provide that help.

Remember what they had been through
        In the weeks leading up to the ascension

For nearly three years they had observed and experienced
        What Jesus did and taught
        Who Jesus was

Then, they had seen Jesus cheered by enthusiastic crowds
        Who waved palm branches and spread their cloaks
        Who shouted hallelujahs and proclaimed him "Lord."

Four days after that, they had eaten with Him at a special dinner
and learned     that He was about to be betrayed and lose his life

The next day at Golgatha
they saw him hanging on the cross and then placed in the tomb
A day later in an upper room
        They hung out together afraid for their own lives
But on Sunday, early in the morning they discovered
that the tomb was empty
later on the morning they learned
        that he had appeared to Mary
and on Sunday evening they saw him and they heard him
        in the room with them.

And then for forty days
        He walked and talked with them again
Their fears seemed to vanish
        They became comfortable and confident and reassured

And then,
he was taken up
        And they were commissioned, commanded, and conscripted
                To continue his work

What do you suppose was the state of mind that they were in by then?

All I can think of is one winter day
when I was in seventh or eighth grade.
                (See, I do have a pretty good memory)

The junior high was located down a moderate incline from the high school.

It had no cafeteria
And so, each day we walked to the high school for lunch.

On the day that comes to my mind as I think of what it must have been like for the disciples,
        Some friends and I were returning to the junior high

The incline was slippery
        I fell on my back, knocking some of the wind from me
Shaken, I got up
        Took two steps
        And fell again - this time on my front
                Expelling the last of the air from my lungs..
For a moment, I just lay there, gasping for breath
        And feeling quite foolish in front of - and considerably below - my friends.

I think that must have been how the disciples felt
        On the day of Christ's ascension.
                The breath had been knocked out of them - again!
                And they were worried that to others
they now looked foolish

So,     not only were they shaken and out of breath,
But they worried
That cynics would think them foolish and mock them by saying something like this,
        "So you expect us to believe
that your teacher and spiritual advisor
        was killed, but then came alive again
but you can't show me any physical proof
        because he was taken up by a cloud."

The question in the disciples' minds, was whether to take seriously
Christ and his commission, command and conscription
Or to walk away
        And go back to fishing, tax collecting, and farming.

This is what they did.                  Acts 1: 12-14,
And then                                        Acts 1: 15-17
And after telling about the end of Judas, Peter quoted a psalm
                                                Acts 1: 20
And they took action                    Acts 1: 21-26
When I fell, I got up and I went to my afternoon classes.
        I really didn't have much of a choice
                Lying on the cold ground was not an attractive alternative
                And some teacher or student would have come by and made me get up.

The disciples had a choice
        They could each have gone back to what they had done before
                With memories and stories and lessons

Can't you just picture an older Peter and Andrew in a fishing boat
        Sharing wistful memories of the good old days
"back when we traveled with Jesus"?

But that was not the choice they made.
Instead, they chose to take seriously
Jesus and the commission he had given to them

And so they returned to the Upper Room
        to wait expectantly for the Holy Spirit to empower them

And they prepared themselves for
that empowerment and the task that would follow
                By prayer
        and     By faithfully selecting a replacement for Judas.

In short,       they took him seriously
By getting ready.

They got ready  to do what Christ had told them to do.
They got ready  to be Christ's witnesses.
They got ready  to make disciples of and for him.

You and I have a choice
        We can take the great commission seriously
                And do what Christ has charged us to do

Or we can return to whatever it was - or whoever we were -
before Christ called us
        Limiting our involvement to swapping stories of the old days.

But the disciples recognized that the choice they had was illusory
The knew that, their lives had been touched by Christ
        Thus, they had no choice - no choice but to be Christ's witnesses
        They had to get ready
                And then they had to do
what Christ had commissioned them to do

You and I need to recognize the same thing
        We too have been touched by Christ
We too have to be Christ's witnesses
                In Potsdam
                In West Stockholm
                And to the ends of the earth.

Let's get ready.                And then let's do it.