Sunday, June 5, 2011
When I was a freshman at Texas A&M, I signed up to attend fishcamp. Fishcamp was an orientation for incoming freshman in order to get us prepared for what was college life. We spent a lot of time learning the ropes, especially the traditions (whoop).
They also tried to tell us about pitfalls we should avoid in order to survive the first year at college.
One session, they gathered us together and asked us who inspired us. They wanted to know who we looked to for inspiration in our life.
THis is a common question many of us are asked.
Especially when we are young, people often want to know what or who in life inspires us or how we encounter inspiration.
Think for a moment about all the so called "inspirational" stories we get via email, or someone tells us about, or hallmark movies that are made.
These are usually sad stories that get better. They start off tragic but some how find a somewhat happy ending. They usually involve persevrance, challenges, hard knocks along the way, some sort of abandonment only to culminate in a sense of victory.
But of all the inspirational stories, should not the story of Christ be "the" inspirational story that gets us moving.
HE expereinced tragedy, abandonment, betrayal. He experienced condemnation and sentencing to death though innocent. HE was laughed at and ridiculed and spit on. He was beaten and crucified and killed.
But today in the Feast of the Ascension we see how the story culminates.
He now ascends to his father in heaven and sits on the right hand.
Talk about from rags to riches.
The transformative power of fidelity is highlighted in the ascension of Christ.
Christ takes our humanity and inserts it completely into God himself.
This is our destiny. We are made for something greater. We are made for something more. We are no longer earth bound.
We are made to soar.
Now if this doesn't inspire then nothing will.
Not only does Christ inpsire us, he fills us with his very life with the gift the Spirit in baptism and sends us out to do what he does. We are now in empowered with making the kingdom come.
This is what the great commission is all about" Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Christ wants to win the world over to himself and he asks us to be his instruments.
IT all started with 11 Galileans. What a crew, what a story, what a life. These weren't the perfect men. They had a history of disappointments. They were reckless, stubborn, ambitious. They abandoned Christ in crunch time. They denied Christ to save their skin. Yet here were the one Jesus chose. They seem to be a bit like us.
The Feast of the Ascension and the Great Commission remind me of the story of Leonardo De Vinci.
The great artist had started on one of his master pieces. He prepared the canvas, sketched the drawing, he started to apply colors and texture and then about 1/3 way into the project he stopped. He went up to one of his students and invited the student to finsh it.
The student was shocked. HE felt inadequate and unworthy to fill in for the great Leonardo de Vinci. SO he went to the master and told him that he was goign to decline th eoffer becasue he was unable and unworthy. Leonardo de Vinci responded, "will you not let what I started inspire you to do your best."
In some sense this is the great commission. Jesus has done the hardwork. He has the power and jurisdiction over heaven and earth and he promises to be with us always until the end of the age.
Should we not let what he started inspire us to do, to go forth and build the kingdom by the lives we live.
In the words of the Acts of the Apostles on the lips of the two angels as the apsotles watch JEsus ascend, "why do yuo stand there staring in to the heavens" in other words, 'don't just stand there do something."
We now as his disicples make the kingdom come on earth as it is is in heaven.
What a gift to us. what a beautiful feast today. Christ ascends and so do we. Our hearts and minds are elevated and we are inspired to follow his lead.
We do not have to go to the ends of the earth. Rather, we start on person at a time.
A story is told of a woman who attended on of Billy Graham's conferences on discipleship. Afterwards she felt called to preach the gospel, to leave it all behind and be a missionary. She wrote the reverend Graham a letter detailing her experience and how she felt God put it on her heart to be a missionary,a herald of the gospel. But she had one small problem, she stated. She had 12 children and did not know what to do with them.
Billy Graham wrote back that he was delighted that she had felt God call her to such greatness in proclaiming the gospel. He was also much delighted in the fact that God has already provided her with a congregation of 12.
Each day God prepares a congregation for each of us: our spouse, our chillren, our employees, our co-workers, the passer-bys on the street, the strangers, and all we encounter. These are the ones God has prepared for each of us to make the kingdom realized.
We do not have to go to the far corners of the world; we simply have to be open to those right before us each and every day.
Go forth, make disciples; use your hands and your feet and the heart that beats in your chest and thus on earth as it is in heaven will the kingdom be.