I'm not doing much writing these days as we get ready to move to California in 3 weeks. But I have been preaching here and there.
Last month, I got to preach in the church I grew up in which was weird and wonderful. It was Ascension Sunday and we read this exchange between Jesus and his disciples from Acts 1:6-9:
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Ok, so first off that question!
"Are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
What Jesus' followers are asking is this:
Are you finally going to become the literal king on the literal throne of this little piece of land where we live?
Are you going to vanquish our enemies and make sure that
our religion is respected,
our families are safe,
our way of life is protected?
Jesus, being Jesus, knows what they're asking, that they are hoping to become powerful, to see their status restored. But he doesn't rebuke them, he just answers a different question.
Oh you're about to get power.
But not power to rule this little piece of land in the Middle East.
You're going to have power to live out a life of faith,
power to proclaim the good news,
power to continue my work around the world.
Then - mic drop - and he Star Treks himself up to the sky.
After talking about that story, I shared about this power to proclaim, what it looks like to be people who are good at telling God's story.
The next week I was back in Ann Arbor for Pentecost Sunday. (If you're following along, I preached about evangelism to the Pentecostals and Pentecost to the evangelical Baptists ;)
The sermon invites us to live expectantly and embrace the mystery of God - including learning to worship while wrestling with doubt, honest prayer, faith and how to make sense of the phrase "body of Christ."