Monday, December 12, 2011

Homiletix II

Here's the text from a "topical" sermon by Greg that was to be 10-12 minutes long and the topic chosen was Ascension day.

Opening Collect from BCP, 226
O Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen

Moving... in my 29 years, I've had the begrudging joy of moving 25 times. There's packing to be done, forwarding addresses, setting up some system of hauling your stuff to a new place (which hopefully you have already established as your destination), and with all the annoyances, my all-time least favorite part of moving was always saying Goodbye. Goodbye to the friends I have made and the people who have impacted my life; Goodbye to the places I've grown accustomed to and come to rely on; Goodbye to schools and routines of life that offered some kind of consistency in our obviously tumultuous life. Goodbye everything I've known and Hello abandonment
At the Ascension of Jesus, he says goodbye, too. But instead of the heartache of goodbye, we may never meet again and your whole life is being uprooted and everything is changing for the unknown... We (and the disciples) thought we'd lost Jesus once, we said goodbye the day that he was crucified and buried, only to have our faith and hope and love renewed by his glorious resurrection! but now he's saying goodbye again. Jesus says, I go to prepare a place for you, and I am coming quickly. We are never forsaken nor abandoned. But why does he have to Ascend? Over the next couple of weeks we are going to be talking about the Ascension and Session of Jesus, but today, focussing on the Gospel Reading, we are going to focus on the WHY of the Ascension, Why did Jesus have to go"?
Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to
Bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity
Commission His Body to the ministry of proclamation, and
Dispatch the Holy spirit to empower and give life
Post-Resurrection, Jesus is revealing himself to people left and right. The disciples are gathered in a closed room talking about his latest revelation on the road to Emmaus through the breaking of the bread and by how their hearts burned within them as he open the Scriptures to them.
All of sudden, Jesus appears! Out of nowhere (ex nihilo?) and says, "Peace to you!" Naturally, they respond, "And also with you", right? No way... where there should have been a, "And with thy Spirit", there is a frightened, "Ah!! A Spirit!!"
They immediately doubt the real humanity of Christ and Jesus takes great pains to belabour the fact that he is still very human - appealing to their senses "See my hands and my feet...touch me, and see. A spirit does not have flesh and bones as I do. Have you anything to eat?" Why is it so important to Jesus to proove his real humanity?
Because Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to Bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity Jesus, bearing our real humanity is our Mediator.
1Tim2:5, "There is one mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all"
Barth (Dogmatics in Outline, ch 18) "Christ is where God is and as bearer of our humanity is our Representative in the place where God is, and in the way in which God is"
The death and resurrection of Jesus secures our salvation and it s through the Ascension that we are united to the One, True, and Living God by the real humanity of Jesus. Gregory of Nazianzus summarizes this point well (On Apolonarianism), "That which has not been assumed has not been healed, but that which is united to the Godhead is saved"
Our Hope and confidence in the finished work of Christ is grounded in the reality that he ascended to the Father in order to bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity. We are the branches of the Vine of Christ because he bears our real humanity to the Father in the Asension.
Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to Commission His Body to the ministry of proclamation
Luke 24:44-48

Prior to his ascension, when it seems as though he's saying goodbye, just as Jesus is sure to remind his disciples of the reality of his humanity, He makes sure to remind them of the gospel message they are to proclaim once He is seemingly gone. That all the Law, Prophets, Writings, and all of Scripture speaks of the story of Jesus Himself, "That the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be all nations... you are WITNESSES of these things" You have received the story of the salvation of your souls... you have been healed and sin has been dealt with and you are commissioned to tell this story to the whole world. This ministry of proclamation, which began in Eden and continued through Moses and the Prophets and John the Baptist, and the disciples doesn't cease when Jesus goes to bring our humanity into the community of the Trinity. No, Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to commission his Body to continue that ministry - He goes away to build the Church.
Eph 4:10-12, he ascended far above all the heavens that he might fill all things...and he gave apostles, prophets, teachers, seminarians... to equip the saints for the work of ministry and for the building up and maturation of the Body.
We are given a task because Jesus Ascends to the Father, though Jesus says, I go, you are now my witnesses, Go make disciples of all nations... He also says, I will ask the Father and we will send you another helper who is with you and dwells in you... we are also given the power to do his commandments because
Jesus Ascends to the Father in order to Dispatch the Holy Spirit to empower and give life In the Ascension, Jesus Brings our real humanity into communion with the Trinity and Commissions us to the ministry of proclamation and then He says
Luke 24:49, Behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you..stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high..." Jesus doesn't say goodbye that we may be separated from Him, no we are closer than ever before by the Holy Spirit who fills us. We are not left alone because Jesus has moved...because just as he mediates our humanity to the Father, He also mediates the divinity of God to His commissioned Body by clothing us in the Holy Spirit
Athanasius said, "[Jesus] became as we are, that we might become as he is" We are empowered by the Holy Spirit, not only to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in word, but in our very being, as united to the gracious, omnipotent God who descended to become Incarnate and Ascend again so that we who by faith know and love and serve him may have real hope and faith and live in true love by the indwell of the Holy Spirit!!
Jesus opens up the lines of communication between God and humanity by bearing BOTH in Himself and mediating each to each by his Ascension. He goes away, but he goes to prepare a place for us and
Ascends to the Father in order to
Bring our real humanity into communion with the Trinity
Commission His Body to the ministry of proclamation, and
Dispatch the Holy spirit to empower and give life


So, we thought you all might enjoy some of our sermons from this year of multiple sermonizings.

Click the link below to hear Noel's sermon on the Feast Day of Clive Staples "Jack" Lewis, November 22nd.  If you so desire, the reading that the sermon is based on is 1 Peter 1:3-9, read it if you want to follow along a little better. :)  Enjoy!

Living Hope