Going Home

“Going Home”

Rev. Dr. Glenda Hollingshead; May 24, 2020

7th Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:1-11

The liturgical calendar marks this past Thursday as the Ascension of the Lord—a day that seldom gets the recognition it deserves. Some say that Christ’s ascension is every bit as important as his resurrection—because, in that moment—those standing on the Galilean hillside see that Jesus not only comes from God, he also returns to God. Because of Christ’s ascension, the veil between earth and heaven is lifted to reveal the promise of coming and going in a new way—for Jesus and for all who choose to follow in his footsteps. [i]

 

In a modern-day psalm, David Adam speaks of the wonder of Christ’s choice:[ii]

Hail to the King: blessed is he.

Coming to share in our humanity.

Upon the cross and in the grave,

Facing our loss, coming to save.

Risen again, never to die,

Ascended Lord, Christ on high.

Hail to the King: blessed is he.

Coming to share in our humanity.

 

Before losing his battle with cancer in 2010, David M. Bailey was well known as a 14-year survivor of a Glioblastoma brain tumor that was to have killed him in 6 months. [iii]  A passionate Presbyterian folksinger, he wrote songs that inspired people to believe and to hang onto hope. David had an uncanny way of making even complex theological teachings understandable. One example, “The First Breakfast,” is a ballad that imagines the Trinity gathered for the very first breakfast and chatting about—of all things—us. The song offers a glimpse of the deep love that resides within the Trinity—a deep love that is available to us. So, I invite you to sit back, relax, and listen to the lyrics of “The First Breakfast.”

 

At the very first breakfast in the world, Jesus and God sat down to eat. Spirit put on some coffee and joined them at a table set for three. They talked about what had been created and God said, “I still think it’s good.”

Jesus said, “Yes, but I feel nervous.” Spirit said, “Well, I guess I would be too, if I were you. And I am…so I do.”

 

Later, God said “Son, we need to have a Word. I got this little job lined up for you. Gonna send you on a visit down to our creation to do something you might not want to do.” Jesus said, “Somehow I knew you’d say that. And I’m ready; just tell me when to go.”

 

God wiped a tear from His face and said, “This hurts me more than you’ll ever know.” Jesus said, “Dad, it’s OK. We both know it’s what has to be done.” God said, “That does not make it easy: after all, you’re still my only Son and we are One. Well, I’d do it myself if I could. But you know, it would not be the same. So, I’m sending you instead, like I always said I would; you’ll have a face, a family, and a name. Call it a special assignment. The trip will last you 33 years—a drop in the bucket in light of forever.” Jesus smiled and said, “I’m all ears.”

 

So, God reviewed the details one more time. And Jesus—he kinda winced and shut his eyes. He said, “It’s not too late to change your mind.” God said, “This should come as no surprise. I’ve thought about it forty ways till Sunday. I’m gonna turn it upside down and inside out. A costly demonstration of unexpected love will be proof beyond the shadow of a doubt.”

 

Jesus said, “I’m with you all the way. Just thought it might be worth a second look.”

 

God said, “We could look at it forever. In the end, we gotta do it by the Book.”

 

Jesus said, “The Spirit’s awfully quiet. She’s already been to the Holy Land.” God said, “She’ll go back after you return; Trust me, it’s all part of the Plan.” So, Jesus took a slow sip of his coffee, He looked up and said, “I’m ready to go.”

 

With pride in his eyes; sorrow in His voice, God said, “A few more things you should know. Your mom will be a quiet gal named Mary. She’s quite an amazing soul. Her husband, he might seem a bit confused, but he’s a good man. His name is Joe. And it’s going to take some time just getting used to doing something they call ‘growing up.’ But when you hear a voice calling from the desert, you’ll know you are ready for my cup.

 

I’ll get a dozen guys to help you. I promise you will never be alone—except for one evening right towards the end. But by then, you’ll be just 3 days from home.” Jesus said, I’ll do my best; But I never thought Love would feel like this…Strange how the end, the end of the beginning, will all be started with a kiss.’ God said “I understand your feeling but this is how it has to be. My house of many rooms is ready and you, you will be the key.” With those words the breakfast was over, followed by a bittersweet peace. The Bread, the Wine, that would come later, on the way to the final, forever, banquet feast.

 

Truly, Christ’s gift to us is more than we can comprehend. As I have pondered Jesus’ home-going this week, an image has stuck with me. The image is of Jesus crossing over into the great mystery of eternity and there, eagerly waiting, are God and the Holy Spirit. The Trinity reunited, once again. I imagine hugs and kisses and dancing for joy. Trumpets blow and angels sing. He, who came from God, has returned home to God, but not before accomplishing his mission—to show humanity how to live—to show humanity how to love. Through Christ we are invited into the family of God. We are redeemed. We are transformed. And by the power of the Spirit, we are swept into the never-ending story of God’s eternal love. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[i] Randle Mixon, Feasting on the Word.

[ii] David Adam, Music of the Heart: New Psalms in the Celtic Tradition

[iii] http://www.davidmbailey.com/

*Cover Art “The Great Amen” by Ira Thomas via Catholic World Art, used by permission.