Ascension Sunday

Acts 1:1-11; Hebrews 9:24-28; Luke 24:46-53

Have you ever been ghosted?

According to the Urban Dictionary, the term “ghosting” came into vogue eight years ago.  It describes what happens when a person suddenly and without warning cuts off all communication with you.  They don’t’ return your phone calls, text messages or social media posts.  They avoid you in public.  They disappear from your life.  However, ghosts, they can also haunt you.

Today we celebrate the antithesis of ghosting, the Ascension of Jesus.  Although he left the earth physically, he has never really left us.  Our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that in his life, death, resurrection he has opened the way for all people to receive the saving grace of God.  Where he is, we hope to be—in this life and in the next life.

We can think of the Acts of the Apostles as the sequel to Luke.   Both had the same author, and Acts begins where Luke ends.  Jesus had prepared his disciples for his Ascension.  He appeared to them and instructed them.  He gave them a mission, and he promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them.

What was that mission?  Jesus stated it plainly: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  In other words, “You will be my witnesses everywhere.”  The Acts of the Apostles tells us the story of how the apostles and the other disciples faithfully fulfilled that mission.  The mission of Jesus ended in Jerusalem.  The mission of his disciples began there.

Their mission is our mission.  We are also called to be witnesses to the life and love of Jesus everywhere we go and to all the people we meet.  Every time we gather in this church, our temple, we give thanks and praise for all that God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We come to encounter him in word and sacrament.  We come to receive his instruction.  We renew our commitment to be his witnesses and his servants in the world.

Sometimes that witness is heroic and sometimes it is more ordinary.  Last week Sr. Ines Sancho Nieves, a 77-year-old nun from Spain, was beheaded in the Central African Republic.  Her crime? She taught poor women and girls.  Last week, a group of students at a Catholic high school near Boston buried Timothy Fowl, a homeless military veteran who had no known family or friends.  For the past two years, these young men have become the family and friends for those whom society has ghosted.  What they do is simple but profound.

Witnessing to the presence and love of Jesus, risen and ascended, is our gift, our privilege and our responsibility.  No ghosting allowed! +