First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at  . 

Weekly Reflections: Sunday, June 1

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Saturday, May 31, 2014 Under: Weekly Reflections
Readings; Acts 1 : 1-11, Psalm 93, Ephesians 1: 15-23, Luke 24: 44-53 Thanks to feasting  on the Word , Year A , Volume 2 pgs 496-519

Hi everyone. Here are my first thoughts for this Sunday when we will
celebrate the Ascension.  Some rushed very elementary first thoughts this week. Hope they stimulate
your thoughts and enrich Sunday's worship.

Because Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday we rarely give the feast the due it deserves. When you read the stories of Ascension it was clearly important for the first disciples and the early church included it in our creeds. In fact it seems that only because and after the of the Ascension did the Apostles truly direct their full attention to serving Christ. Before the Ascension but after the Resurrection we see Peter, for example, still going back to the familiar, fishing.  After the Ascension he is praying with the others waiting for the Spirit to direct him in serving God's Kingdom.

When I read our readings for Sunday , I find myself drawn to the question the disciples posed to Jesus just before His Ascension, Lord is this the time you will restore the kingdom to Israel? They were still thinking in terms of the Davidic Kingdom of political and economic prosperity for Israel replacing the political and economic oppression they were currently experiencing. Is the time when we will be free from our suffering? They did not get the answer they were looking for. They received an even more glorious hope but immediately they would not be receiving what they were
hoping for.

I am drawn to the disciples question because sometimes I wonder, "When Lord is the Kingdom finally going to arrive?" This week at the Outreach Committee Fran and Eleanor reported on the meeting they attended to learn about the
plague of human trafficking, a terrible crime right here on the 401corridor as well as around the world. If God is King why is this happening?  

Of course there are many ways to look at this question but our Psalm seems to portray this very tension. Psalm 93 begins by declaring that God is King.  In fact this Psalm is probably one of the enthronement Psalms used in the temple to declare God king over all things. But the Lord's kingship does not deny the existence of floodwaters in our lives. I found Thomas Are's comments inspiring, "Worship may take place in a sanctuary, but worship does not create sanctuary from the chaos and brokenness of life. The faithful know what it is to be engulfed by grief, . The faithful know what it is to wade through disappointment or to be swallowed by the crushing burden of oppression or poverty or disease. Still  even up to their necks in floodwaters, the congregation sings of God's faithful reign." Page 504 (Even though I found this inspiring and helpful there is a part of me that thinksthe Psalm was simply extolling the power and majesty of God even in comparison to mighty waves and not making this point but never the less worth thinking about.)

And it does point us back to the readings from the Gospel and Acts which describe the disciples and us in an in between time. They have lost the earthly experience of Jesus and are now waiting for His return which will mark final redemption. As frustrating as being in between times can be (my sadness about human trafficking) we are told that we have a mission. John McClure  points out that the disciples are told to wait for power from the spirit and are given a purpose. " there are very important things to do
during these in-between times, visiting the sick, being advocates for justice, renewing the church, feeding the hungry, praying, studying the Bible, worshipping together." Pg 499.

The story also marks that we are not alone in this in between time as The Spirit is with us and in a very real way Jesus can be with all people at all times.

I have begun my first thoughts by asking a question of theodicy prompted in the spirit of the disciples question to Jesus about the coming of the kingdom. But our reading from Ephesians reminds us that Ascension should probably be a service of total praise and thanksgiving for the power of God put to work in Christ's resurrection and glorious ascension. We should in our hearts enthrone Christ as he is King. A good sermon might look at power, good power, bad power.  Of course as Christians when we consider power we must always remember that Christ reigned from the cross and His power is love. If we are truly subjects of this King love is the  language of the kingdom and is the power that is mightier than the waves that wash in against us.
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Tags: ascension; human suffering; coming of the kingdom