“Unite the Right”? Absolutely Wrong

Image result for charlottesville rally I’m glad I didn’t have to preach yesterday. I’d have been working all week on a sermon only to redo it on Saturday. However, I can’t go without speaking to what happened in Charlottesville, and I will say it in no uncertain terms. White supremacy, anti-Semitism, bigotry, xenophobia, etc. have had a place in this country since the beginning. However, they have no place in where this country should be, no place in the ideals that make America great.

As a Christian I must also say that they are sin. Ugly, vicious sin that mars God’s creation. There is no way that it fits into life in Christ. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NRSV) To hold your own (constructed) race as superior to others and use your power to hold others down is not Christ but rather anti-Christ. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s satanic. To invoke God in defense of it is utter blasphemy. I don’t often use that kind of language, but sometimes it is necessary.

To minimize the evil of it, deflect attention from it by making false equivalencies, and blame “many sides” for the violence and hate is to collaborate with this evil, to give aid and comfort to it. Even just to make general statements against “hate” or “violence” isn’t enough. In the case of Charlottesville, one must name and confront the evils of racism and white supremacy.

After naming them, though, comes the especially hard job confronting them both in others and in ourselves. How have I participated? How have I benefited? How do I confess it fully and seek true repentance?

We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. (from the Confession, Enriching Our Worship 1, pp. 19, 56)

That it may please thee to give us true repentance; to forgive
us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and to endue
us with the grace of thy Holy Spirit to amend our lives
according to thy holy Word,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
(from the Great Litany, Book of Common Prayer, p. 152)

How do I live up my baptismal promises to “renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces
of wickedness that rebel against God” and “the evil powers of this world
which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God”? How do I turn to Christ as my Savior, put my “whole trust in his grace and love,” and “strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human being”? (from Holy Baptism, Book of Common Prayer, pp. 302-305) Only with God’s help along with others in Christ’s Body. Only with God’s grace can I stand. And importantly, I have to be willing to accept that grace and let it transform me and strengthen me to stand with others. I have a long way to go, but I know that I can’t stay in one place.

I don’t always know the best way, but I do know some things.

This is not Christ:


THIS is Christ:

[Also see the video from Sojourners, Clergy marching in silent protest through Charlottesville. #LoveOverFear]

It is not “blood and soil” that will save us but rather the Blood of Christ that has washed us from our sins and frees us from bondage to death and sin.

Giving thanks

Image result for wanderI know it’s been a while since the last post. I’ve had a lot going on, including trying to get a new blog off the ground, Political Wandering. (As you can tell, I do a lot of wandering.)

However, I now have an excuse to write something here. Anyone who knows me and/or who follows this blog knows that I’ve had trouble for a while (okay, long while) finding some direction. Even getting a full-time job has been difficult. Yesterday, though, I got some good news. The law firm I’ve been working at is going to hire me on directly (instead of through a staffing agency), and I’ll be working full-time. It’s not exactly a dream job or a high-paying one, but it is a job that’s stable and has benefits. Plus, I like it here. I like the people, and they like me and appreciate my work. There are a LOT of people out there who can’t say that.

Again, not a dream job, but it gives me some stability. A job search takes a whole bunch of emotional energy. Right now, it feels like I was juggling four balls, but now I only have to juggle two. (No, I can’t juggle. It was just the first image that came to me.) This gives me a chance to focus more on what I want to do and what it will take to do that. Plus, I can spend more energy now on the cross-country road trip I’ve been planning for the last few years, which would also include moving to Seattle. (You can read more in the last of my “Babylonian Questions” series.) Even though I decided not to do JVC Northwest, that only delayed the move and didn’t cancel it.

That’s still a whole lot to deal with, but at least the job situation for now isn’t one of them. For that I am greatly thankful and look forward to the days ahead.

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Eucharistic Bunnies

downloadYes, bunnies and Eucharist. No, I’m not going crazy . . . well, not any crazier . . . I hope. And no, it’s not about the Easter Bunny either.

Actually, let me go back several years. Picture it, Scotland, 1999. I was studying abroad for a semester at St. Andrews, and there was this field near my residence hall. I was walking through it one day on my way to the computer lab. Then I saw a pair of little baby rabbits next to their warren. Cute would be an understatement. However, something odd happened next. For a brief moment, I was overcome with wonder. It was almost as if eternity opened up and blossomed before me. I’m not really sure how to describe it except that everything seemed to just fit together.

allsaints03Since then I’ve had a couple of other “bunny moments.” Once was a time a couple years later when I had too much pain medication after a major surgery. Having been resuscitated, I felt like I had a glimpse, an almost tangible glimpse of the Communion of Saints. It was a moment when I came to understand prayer as not just a conversation between me and God but also the threads connecting all of us together with God and each other. (I’ll write more about this experience another time.)

Another time I’ve experienced one of these “bunny moments” was just after receiving communion at church. Again, I could feel the threads connecting all of us. Bones, muscles, sinews, skin, all making up the Body of Christ. Credo in . . . sanctorum communionem in the Apostles’ Creed. “I believe in . . . the Communion of Saints.” the_holy_eucharistLiterally, though, it’s “the communion of holies.” That can be either “holy persons” (saints) or “holy things” (the Eucharist). In a way, they become the same. In the Greek liturgy, the priest says, Τὰ Ἅγια τοῖς ἁγίοις, “The Holy [Gifts] for the Holy [People],” in announcing communion. The people reply, “One is Holy, one is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.”

How can one fully describe an experience of the holy like that? To feel yourself part of that larger whole? Not just in some shallow feeling but deep in one’s bones? Well, you can’t, at least not completely. It’s also not something that happens every time or even really more than once or twice perhaps. Most of time (okay, almost all the time), nothing really special appears to happen; but I still know it does. I haven’t had many “bunny moments” since then, but from time to time I remember them quite viscerally.

Likewise, in the Eucharist, we do it remembrance of Christ, not a simple mental remembrance but a full body remembrance. Not just of the Last Supper or even His Crucifixion and Resurrection, but also His Incarnation. In Holy Communion, we experience in some way the union of the divine with the human. We hear the Word resounding from the ordinary materiality of life. We see the fire of the Spirit breaking forth, the world “charged with the grandeur of God,” to quote from Gerard Manley Hopkins. Who knew a simple walk through a field in Scotland would teach me so much?

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Okay, I had to get the Easter Bunny in somehow. . . . I’m going to hell for this, aren’t I?

My Trinity Sunday Sermon from 2016

Last year I preached on Trinity Sunday at my parish, St. Thomas’, Washington, DC. The text of it is below, but you can also listen to it online.


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Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Trinity

Believe it or not, but Trinity Sunday can be one of the trickier Sundays to preach on. It’s sometimes joked that this is the Sunday that’s often given to seminarians. Some sort of hazing, I’m sure. Personally, I love it. The Trinity is such a fundamental part of the Christian faith and of my own personal understanding of God, that I get excited learning about it and talking about it.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, I am nuts. You’re also right that it’s not an easy thing to grasp. Three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But one God. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Now some people might try to prove how this is so or explain how they all relate. If they can do that well, great. I’m not going to try. What I’m going to ask you right now is for the time being just to say yes to it and go from there while I talk with you about why it’s important.

mathFirst let me assure you this is not a math lesson: One plus one plus one equals . . . one. It’s also not a lesson in analogies. They can sometimes be helpful illustrations, but that can also get a little tricky. For those who follow my, um, occasional posts of Facebook, you might remember that I regularly share this video called “Patrick’s Bad Analogies” on St. Patrick’s Day and Trinity Sunday. I suggest looking it up on YouTube.

english-grammarSo again, this isn’t a lesson on math or analogies. Instead, it’s a grammar lesson. (And they’re not stampeding to the exit. Good.) What do I meant be that? As you might remember from school, grammar is essentially the set of rules by which a language works. You’ve got parts of speech, the ways words come together to form sentences, the way thoughts are expressed. While we’re sometimes aware of them, most of time those rules are just internalized. We don’t even think about them even though they shape both how we express our thoughts but also how we understand the world. That’s sort of how the Trinity is. We don’t go around every day thinking, “So how exactly do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relate; and does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son?” No, it’s fundamental because this is how God reveals Godself to the world and participates in it. Father, the Source of All Being. The Son, Jesus Christ, fully God yet also fully human, God with “skin in the game” as Wayne once said several years ago in a sermon. The Holy Spirit, God’s abiding presence within and among us. All of them, One God. It’s important because it gets down to the very basics of how God relates to us and how we relate to God. My Christian faith depends on how I relate to a God who is Three-in-One and One-in-Three. At heart it’s a faith that’s firmly Trinitarian.

Now it’s not a faith that’s just me and God. God Him/Herself isn’t just a lone individual or even just a closed-in duo but rather a Trinity, a community, fundamentally relational, even overflowing with creative love. Likewise, as Christians we don’t exist alone but in a community of fellow disciples, of fellow children of God through Christ. A church whose faith is firmly trinitarian and, I believe, at its fullest is firmly sacramental.

Now just to remind you, what is a sacrament? According to the catechism towards the end of the Prayer Book, “The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. . . .The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.” Just as God’s divinity was present in the flesh in Jesus Christ, so we believe that God’s grace is present in and communicated to us through the physical elements of water and of bread and wine. Baptism and Eucharist are the two primary sacraments that make the Church, that unite us with Christ’s Body, and enliven us by the Spirit.

River_baptism_in_New_BernNow let’s start with Baptism. Now I’m sure most everyone here knows what a baptism looks like, especially those of us who were here on Pentecost last Sunday or at the Easter Vigil. Pouring water over the person’s head in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. But what really is the Sacrament of Baptism? Well, take out one of the red Prayer Books and turn to the Thanksgiving Over Water on page 306. This probably does a better a job explaining Baptism than I ever could and really gets to the trinitarian heart of it:

We thank you, Almighty God, for the gift of water. Over it the Holy Spirit moved in the beginning of creation. Through it you led the children of Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land of promise. In it your Son Jesus received the baptism of John and was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah, the Christ, to lead us, through his death and resurrection, from the bondage of sin into everlasting life. We thank you, Father, for the water of Baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn by the Holy Spirit. Therefore in joyful obedience to your Son, we bring into his fellowship those who come to him in faith, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Now sanctify this water, we pray you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that those who here are cleansed from sin and born again may continue for ever in the risen life of Jesus Christ our Savior. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Then after the water is poured in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, the newly baptized is anointed with chrism and the sign of the cross. “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever. Amen.”

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The Baptism of the Christ #2, by Daniel Bonnell

So in Baptism, not only are we washed of our sins, but we are united in Christ’s death and resurrection, brought to new life by the Holy Spirit and anointed “to bring good news to the poor. . . to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” We are brought into the trinitarian household of God, fully initiated by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body the Church.

Now speaking of Christ’s Body, let’s turn to the other great sacrament, Eucharist. Don’t worry, I won’t read an entire Eucharistic Prayer. However, what do we find in the Eucharistic Prayer, the Great Thanksgiving for the work of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – in the salvation of the world? Well, since you already have your Prayer Books out, feel free to turn to Eucharistic Prayer A on page 361 and following pages. As with a lot of current and historic eucharistic prayers, there’s a basic trinitarian structure. The prayer is addressed to God the Father, usually beginning with a thanksgiving for our creation and the sending of Jesus Christ the Son for our redemption. It then moves to the remembrance of Christ’s words at the Last Supper that the bread is his Body and the wine is his Blood, that as we celebrate this feast in remembrance of him, he will truly present with us.

epiclesisWe later come to an invocation of the Holy Spirit to sanctify the gifts to be the Body and Blood of Christ and to sanctify us as well. Looking at Prayer A, we find, “Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.”

In addition, as one of the prayers from Enriching Our Worship says it, “By your Holy Spirit may they be for us the Body and Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ. Grant that we who share these gifts may be filled with the Holy Spirit and live as Christ’s Body in the world.” Likewise, in another EOW prayer, “Pour out your Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Body and Blood of Christ. Breathe your Spirit over the whole earth and make us your new creation, the Body of Christ given for the world you have made.”

amen_1982cThe prayer then concludes in words of praise to the Father through Jesus Christ his Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. To this we then give our assent in the great Amen, literally “So be it.” Just like when we give our assent when we reply “Amen” when we receive communion.  As St. Augustine preached, “If you, therefore, are Christ’s body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord’s table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying ‘Amen’ to what you are: your response is a personal signature, affirming your faith. When you hear ‘The body of Christ,’ you reply ‘Amen.’ . . . Be what you see; receive what you are.”

window-baptism-eucharistIn Baptism we are joined to Christ’s Body in his death and resurrection and sealed by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In the Eucharist we are fed by the sacramental mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood. Through the consecrated bread and wine, joined to Word and Holy Spirit, we are made present to his death and resurrection and united with his sacrifice of love and work of reconciliation, being made one Body to be sent out in mission “rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.” As we are washed in Baptism, it’s revealed that we’re no longer the kind of persons we were, alone, isolated. We are persons joined to one another through Christ in the Holy Spirit. My personhood is bound up with everyone else’s. As we are fed in the Eucharist, that personhood is nourished and strengthened through the presence of Christ and the fire of the Spirit.

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Virgin Mary and Child, from the Comnenus Mosaic, Hagia Sophia

This is why the Trinity is important. This is why it is the basic grammar that gives structure and content to our faith. We do not worship some self-contained distant God off somewhere. We worship a God intimately involved with us, whose very being is relational. A God who created and continues to create, who chooses to love us as our Father, as our Mother, who will never abandon us and always calls us by name. A God who is so fully involved so as to take on our humanity, to have “skin in the game,” being fully human while still being fully divine. A God whose mystery is ever unfolding within and among us, filling us with life and kindling a fire within us that burns away the walls that divide us from each other and from God. St. Irenaeus in the 2nd century wrote that the Son and Holy Spirit are the hands of the Father. Well, by those hands we are pulled into a motherly embrace and welcomed into the divine household. That is why I love the Trinity. That is why I get so excited talking about and want to share that good news.

Now I wish to leave you with a prayer for Trinity Sunday that I found in a translation of the Roman Missal, albeit one that was rejected but is still quite wonderful:

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us pray.

Trinity1O God,
your name is veiled in mystery,
yet we dare to call you Father;
your Son was begotten before all ages,
yet is born among us in time;
your Holy Spirit fills the whole creation,
yet is poured forth now into our hearts.
Because you have made us and loved us
and called us by name,
draw us more deeply into your divine life,
that we may glorify you rightly through your Son,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

“Reborn by the Holy Spirit”: Pentecost Baptism

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My first time as a baptismal sponsor

Some of my favorite experiences of church life (aside from Holy Week liturgies) have been times when I’ve taught people preparing for confirmation or reception. This year I had the privilege to prepare someone for baptism; so for the past few months I’d been meeting with her to help her in this. I hesitate to say “teach her” for a few reasons:

 

  1. People often say that in the sense of filling someone’s head with information. There was information shared by me but only as a complement to the main task of providing resources and helping her do her own learning.
  2. She actually was a very eager student who took initiative to learn from other sources and bring back questions about it.
  3. I saw myself as more of a guide and companion on her way, helping to draw out (e-ducere, educate) the process of learning and find the path.

The real teacher, I believe, here and in the Christian life in general, is the Holy Spirit. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. [John 14:26]. . . When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. [John 13:16]” Maybe the best thing to do when it comes to educating people in the Christian life is to help draw out their curiosity and wonder and prepare the space in the upper room for the Holy Spirit to fill it and form them into bearers of Christ in the world.

[Pictures come via St. Thomas’ Parish, Washington, DC on Pentecost, June 4, 2017]

 

“He ascended into Heaven . . . ” (Part 2): That he might fill all things

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 on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
— 
Collect for Ascension Day, Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 226


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Ascension of Christ, by Salvador Dali

For those who’ve followed my posts, you’ll know that I like to use images. They sometimes illustrate my points in a way that complements my words. Continuing from my last post, I want to use some art to help me with the theology of the Ascension.  [Forgive me if this post is a little longer than others.]

As I wrote in my previous post, Jesus Christ rose to Heaven taking his full self with him, body and soul, bringing his humanity (and ours) to the Father. Ironically, it is by his earthly absence that He can be even more present with us. The painting to the left here, Salvador Dalí’s Ascension, illustrates this to an extent, particularly on the cosmic scale.

The Empyrean, by Gustave DoréAt the bottom we see a sliver of the earth’s surface, and as the eye moves upward, we see the clouds of the sky give way to the vast blackness of space. However, in front of that darkness is a large yellow disk, the center of which looks like logarithmic spiral in the head of a sunflower but can also be seen as the nucleus of an atom. Above/behind that is what looks like the sphere of the heavens. At the top of that sphere is the dove of the Holy Spirit with rays shining from it and even the heavens looking like an extension from its wings. At the same time, one can see it in its inverse, leading not up and out but further inward. (I’m reminded slightly of Gustave Doré’s illustration of the Highest Heaven in Dante’s Paradiso.)

Above all that we see a female figure modeled on Dalí’s wife, Gala. In a number of his works, she represents the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven. Some see her in this role here as well, a mother shedding tears for her son. However, if one goes beyond artist’s intent, the figure could also be compared to the divine person of the “Father” but in this case showing a more feminine/maternal side. The tears could be seen as evidence of sorrow at the suffering of Her Son or perhaps as tears of joy at His return.

In the midst of this is the figure of Christ. His positioning adds another dimension to the painting with his feet pointed toward the viewer and his head extending away. He seems to be moving into the painting toward the solar/nuclear disk and ultimately toward the Mother figure above. The soles of His feet are dirty, bearing the soil on which He walked. As our eyes move along His body, we see His arms outstretched as on the Cross. Although Dalí does not include Jesus’ wounds, the hands seem to curl in pain and agony. This too He carries with him into Heaven. At the same time, clouds of smoke and flames of fire (?) surround his hands and perhaps even emanate from them. Agony, yet also great power. On the other hand, could they not also be like arms of the Divine Mother/Father reaching outward to receive the Son, their hands clasped together, with the Spirit in the middle proceeding from Her as the Love uniting them.

However, is Jesus moving inward away from us or toward us? It’s actually a little ambiguous. Ascension? Or the Parousia, the Second Coming of Christ? Perhaps it’s the whole Mystery:  the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, Christ’s return to rule over all. (We even see here the whole Trinity itself.) I mean, what is the mystery of our faith? “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” (From Eucharistic Prayer A in The Episcopal Church’s 1979 Book of Common Prayer,  p. 363)

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Christ Pantokrator, Florence

Not just will Christ be present at his return. He is present with us now. As the collect (opening prayer) above says, “ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things.” We actually see this in Dalí’s painting. As Jesus ascends, we have everything from the earth itself to the vastness of space down to the very atoms themselves and even out to encompass the Heaven of Heavens. Through the Spirit he can indeed “fill all things.” It is also by His Ascension that He can send the Spirit (John 16:7) and thereby be even more present with His Church. “Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages.” United with Christ, who brings His whole humanity to the Father, we are also united to the Father in the Spirit. (“On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” John 14:20

Dalí might not have intended all of this, but any sort of “text” exists not just in the mind of the author (or in this case artist). It also exists with the audience and their response. I certainly don’t claim to be the definitive authority, but I hope some of my theological musings have provided at least some understanding of the Ascension through a meditation on this painting. May the Risen and Ascended Lord be with us all as we await the Feast of Pentecost and celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the gathered believers.


Almighty God, make our hearts dance with joy and thanksgiving; for in the ascension of Christ, your Son, our human nature is raised above the heavens, and where Christ, the head, has gone before in glory we, his body, are called in hope. We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen
— Roman Catholic Opening Prayer for the Solemnity of the Ascension of Our Lord [according to the (rejected) 1998 English translation of the Roman Missal]

“He ascended into Heaven . . .” (Part 1)

Ascension of Christ, by the Master of the Dominican CycleFeast of the Ascension

Thursday, May 25, 2017

First of all, no, this is not a sermon. It’s just some reflections on Jesus’ Ascension. So here it goes:

I remember seeing this picture (or a similar one) on the cover of a church bulletin once and got a kick out of the footprints Jesus was leaving behind. Actually, at first glance of the printing, it looked almost like Jesus was getting pulled right out of his sandals. Honestly, it looks a little silly with his feet dangling there, but it’s still pretty much like most depictions of the event.

I’m also reminded of a talk I attended by John Shelby Spong (don’t judge). At one point he said that Carl Sagan had once told him that even if Jesus had risen vertically from the earth at the speed of light, he’d still be within the Milky Way galaxy. Therefore, absurd! Well, I suppose the response would be “Duh!” The idea of Jesus zooming off into the sky is pretty silly and simplistic, and the attempts to “refute” it are actually more like a straw man argument.

Yes, we know that the earth is an atmosphere-enveloped sphere located within the vastness of space. Heaven isn’t some place above the clouds. It can be easy to just excuse it as simple people of the past not really knowing what things were really like and just making up a story. Mind you, a lot of people at the time and for quite a while after probably did hold to a cosmology placing Heaven above the dome of the sky. However, explaining it away in that manner and reducing it just to some sort of demythologized metaphor or such is also pretty simplistic and not quite fair to early Christians and all those since who have believed in Jesus’ Ascension.

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Yeah, like this but with a tad more of a sigh . . . and laser beams.

Both of those responses, in my opinion, miss the point. Do I believe that 40 days after the Resurrection Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father? I am willing to say “Yes” to it. A literal rising into the sky and sitting next to an old guy on a fancy chair? No. (And imagine me looking over my glasses like Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada.)

So is “ascension” metaphorical? Yes, in the sense that human language is limited, especially when trying to make sense of God’s mysteries. However, it still represents an actual reality. And that reality is an essential aspect of the larger saving mystery of Christ from the Incarnation to his teaching and healing ministry and to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, as well as the Sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Jesus is fully human, with a flesh-and-blood body; and that body was not discarded when he rose from the dead. Neither is it discarded when returned to Heaven to take his place once again with the Father. Rather, Jesus brought not just his humanity to the divine life but ours as well. We who are baptized into His Body will one day share in that divine life at the end of the age when all things are made right in relation to God. When or how will that happen? I don’t know. It’s above my pay grade. I’m leaving it to God. For now, we exist in the tension of the absence of Jesus physically here on earth and his continuing presence with us through the Spirit.

I do have a lot more to say, but the post is getting a little long; so I will leave the rest till tomorrow later.

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Icon of the Ascension, by Andrei Rublev