Preaching: Ascension and Mother's Day

I am preaching tonight at work.  Though I never read it word for word it will be something like this....

Today is Mother's Day.  (I Hope, if you are able, all called your mother.) Today is also the feast of the Ascension (why do all the feasts start with A's Assumption, Annunciation, Ascension it kills me).  This feast, as you heard from the readings, remembers and celebrates the profound time when Jesus drew his disciples toward him told them to "stay in Jerusalem" and be good Jews.  Then he ascended into the most holy place- he ascended into God himself.

Perhaps Mother's day and ascension don't seem immediately or obviously related.  I assure you they are. I assure you I will connect them.

The reading from Acts tells us that Jesus had been arisen for 40 days (you'll notice the reading from Luke contradicts that).  Jesus has been breaking bread with disciples, making appearances, challenging their beliefs, surprising folks, cooking fish- all sorts of things.  Here is my question for you...when you imagine Jesus resurrected what do you imagine?  Seriously, take a moment and consider, what do you imagine Jesus looked like, smelled like, moved like, felt like?


If you are like me you might imagine Jesus a little bit ghostly.  You might imagine him floating or with some sort of light or color around him? The Resurrection stories though are not about how Jesus is magical or how he is other worldly.  Though there is something mystical about him we are challenged to take note of how human Jesus is. Jesus is not a ghost Jesus is a living breathing human.  Jesus eats with his friends. Jesus travels, Jesus walks. The resurrected Jesus is a human being.

So when Jesus ascends to be with God he ascends with his body.  He does not have to peel back the layers of his humanity and leave them behind.  Jesus' body is received into God.

Though some of us might be tempted to say, "Oh sure he get's to take his body but he...after God." But be careful, because Jesus is not the only one in our tradition to have ascended Enoch and Elijah were both ascended rather than dying- others in the Hebrew scriptures ascended and then returned with teachings- those people were not deemed unworthy of God.

The challenges of today's readings of the ascension is this- are we willing the let God receive our humanity?  When Jesus ascended into God he took himself.  He took his body- his eczema, his weird hair, he took his pimple or his fungus or his disease, he took his bodies limitations, and his body's invitations...he took it all.  His hang nail, his fat, his toes, his moles, his race, his gender his....his whatever...   but here's the challenge.  Jesus's humanity is welcomed into God as a reminder to us that our humanity is welcomed into God.

Our humanness, our messes, our limitations and ras and bizarre body things are fully received into God.  Fully welcomed into God.  We do not have to peel back the layers of our humanity to be acceptable to God.

I said at the beginning that today is Mother's day.  And though I am not here preaching because I am a mother I am preaching and I happen to be a mother. I cannot help but think about all the messes of my kids.  Their little bodies emerged from mine and I looked at them with love. Their bodies, their messes, their "imperfections" do not make me love them any differently. It is just who they are. Parenthood teaches us something about God...Jesus ascends to God- to her loving self- and this too is the same offer we have.  To suspend our judgement of our humanity or our bodies and let ourselves enter into God's self, God's utter welcome of who we are.


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