Monday, May 18, 2015

“Look Up!” (Acts 1:9-11)

S-1496 AS/3B 5/17/2015 Hymns: (O)#213; (S) # 381; L.S. #341 vv1-3; 473; (C) #341 vv4-5

Texts: Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:16-23; Luke 24:44-53

Theme: “Look Up!” (Acts 1:9-11)

Question: “How often do you look up?” Observing Ascension Day

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for The Ascension celebration is from Acts: And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

People of the resurrection, how quickly life can change! In a flash that which was before you is no longer. That which is standing is tumbled down. That which is beautiful is destroyed. That which is anchored is moved from its foundation. That, which was a home, is rubble of debris. That which you have worked for all of your life, is wiped away. That which was normal has become unknown.

You, I, and the community of Delmont know that first hand. On Sunday morning a little after 10 a.m. the whistle blew and within just a few moments life, history, church, homes and property have been destroyed. That which we considered valuable is piled up as junk. That is life in a fallen world.

But this evening as we celebrate and observe the Ascension of our resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ, we can take to heart His Word of promise there is nothing in this world that will be able to separate us from His pierced and loving hands.

This evening we are told of the disciples last moments with their Savior. They have gone with Him through a lot of events. They have witnessed His power over demons and death. They saw His compassion and care for the needy. They witnessed His love and life that He gave freely to all. Even when they forsook Him on the night He was put to death—a cruel death on a cross for the sins of the world, He forgave them. He even appeared to them and gave them words that helped them be steadfast— “שלום עליך.” “Peace be with you.” This is what Christ came to give us and even more…to reconcile us to God.

His Ascension demonstrates that God has accepted His sacrifice. This crowning glory gives us hope beyond our wildest imagination. By His Ascension to the Father’s right hand He promises to intercede even now in our lives and keep us safe from every harm and evil.

Though He has ascended to heaven, He has not left us alone. We are not orphaned. We are still His baptized children. And He promised to give us the Holy Spirit to help us keep looking up.

But how often do we really focus on heaven and the life after? When we are young we think of building and amassing wealth and property. We dream big. However, most of the dreams don’t come to fruition. Yet the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to always look up and keep our eyes on Him because He has promised that He will be back soon! PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, our lives are like a farmer who desires to plant his crops in a straight rows. To do so, he doesn’t look down or back. He looks ahead, way ahead, at a fixed point. If the point is fixed you will reach it, but if it is a moving target you will never get it. That is why it is so important to look up to see what is ahead.

I am reminded of a long time ago when I was helping my father in-law plant some wheat. As you know I’m a city boy. Never been or worked on a farm until I married a farmer’s daughter.

One spring day, dad needed some help and he asked me to plant wheat. I asked: “How do I keep the rows straight?” He said, “Pick a spot and keep your eyes on it. Never look back!” (Emphasis on never look back) When I started out heading north there was no problems picking a spot for there were many to choose from. But when I turned around that’s when the problem began. There was nothing but open space. As I drove the tractor I couldn’t tell if I was going straight or not so I turned back (I didn’t listen to my father in-law’s advise), as I did my hand turned to one side. When I realized what I did, I attempted to straighten it up, but went too far the other direction. I tried again to straighten it out and went too far to the left and then to the right. Well, you know the rest of the story.

At first, what I had done wasn’t evident, until the wheat began to grow. You should have been in the coffee shop early in the morning when people began to say: “Ed must have had lots to drink when he planted that field!” PAUSE.

You who are baptized into the name of Jesus, isn’t that like us and the disciples? Jesus had told them to keep their eyes on Him but they forgot His Word and so do we. We turn back on what was, rather than what IS…Often we look down rather than up. We always think we know better. We always try to help God in matters of salvation. We even try to figure out a way without letting the Savior lead and guide us to His home above.

Tonight beloved, I remind you of the blessings of the Ascension. I remind you this is His crowning glory. This is the day He took back all of the power that belonged to Him before He took upon Him human flesh and blood to be like us, and die for us. But more importantly to rise on the third day and ascend into heaven to guarantee us a place with Him forever.

Remember precious children of the heavenly Father, though everything in this world will be taken away from us and or left behind when we depart from this world; may we not be consumed with worry of what we should amass and accumulate? We are exhorted to look up and put our hope and trust in Him alone. For He will supply all of our needs because He is faithful!

This would all be very worrisome if we didn’t know that God was in control, working out His plan for the nations and us His baptized.  Instead, He has told us that when these things begin to take place, to “lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” May we remain alert and firm in faith, always looking up for the Blessed Hope. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, Jesus often looked up to His heavenly Father. He looked up and prayed when He blessed the 2 fish and 5 loaves. He looked up and gave thanks when He instituted the Sacrament of the Altar. He looked up from the cross and prayed to His Father to take the cup of sorrow away from Him. And even now, He looks up to see you and me and comes to our aid—since He is interceding for us from the right hand of the Father in the glories of heaven.

Likewise, we too, are called upon to look up. The Psalmist even encourages us to do so saying: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth (Ps. 121:1-2). Yes, indeed, our help comes as we look up to the Hill of Calvary—from there flows grace, kindness, compassion and everlasting life.

This evening by the Spirit’s power we are moved to look up and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Only Jesus enables us to truly look up, because He is coming back soon. Amen.

Now the peace…


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