May 24, 2020

Bring Me a Higher Love
Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year A
The Feast of the Ascension of Jesus
Becky Robbins-Penniman

Which day this spring did everything really began to unravel for me? It was March 13th. That was the day I was planning to go to someone’s home, and they asked me to bring socks, because I’d need to take my shoes off in case I was dragging a virus around on the bottom of my feet. No problem, of course, but this was not normal.

As we have lived through this remarkable spring, our experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been uniform. For me, this spring has mostly been a very weird disruption in my routine. For some, thought, the days have been filled with life and death encounters. For others, this time has been one of anxiety, grief and disappointment. All of these realities are true for those of us in the midst of them.

What were we supposed to do in this strange landscape? Some did acts of heroism, said words of hope, and brought people together. Some did acts of stupidity, said words of bitterness, and divided people into warring camps.

As spring turns to summer, we – individually, nationally, and globally – need to figure out how to live NOW, when so very much is different. However, we each, individually, also haven’t changed much: the needs, habits, preferences, and dreams we had in, say, January, remain part of us, even if our plans for the future have totally unraveled.

Once again, today looks a lot like the past. Jesus and his followers had a simple but powerful life of ministry of preaching about a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins, of healing, feeding, blessing, doing what they did day after day. One spring day, it all really began to unravel.

For some people in Jerusalem, the crucifixion of an itinerant peasant rabbi meant primarily some really weird things happened around them. For Jesus there was a life and death encounter with tyranny. For his disciples, there was anxiety, grief and disappointment.

What were they supposed to do in this strange landscape? Mary and the other women stood heroically by the cross as Jesus died. Peter gave into his fear and denied his Lord three times; and most of the disciples locked themselves in a room in anxiety and grief. Two disciples walked to Emmaus and told a stranger of their disappointment. Their needs, habits, preferences, and dreams were still part of them, and Jesus of Nazareth hadn’t saved them after all.

Then – ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DAH! JESUS IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD! Everything’s OK now. He’s back, he’ll take care of everything like he did before. We can go back to the way things were! But, wait, what? He’s leaving again? Ah, man, he’s ascended far above all heavens. He’s with the Father. Yay for him. What about us? NOW what?…

To read the full sermon script, click HERE.

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