Sermon = The intrusion of heaven (Ephesians 1)


Sermon = Intrusion of Heaven
Text = Ephesians 1:15-23
Sunday = Ascension of the Lord Sunday 

Presentation_Ephesians1_AscensionB_20180613 (PPTX)

Scientists have figured out that dark energy makes up about sixty-eight percent of the universe. Dark matter makes up another twenty-seven percent. This leaves the normal matter that we see around us. Less than five percent of the universe.

*** Scientists now think that most of the universe is dark energy and dark matter. That we cannot see. Less than five percent of the universe is baryonic matter that we can see and touch with our senses. How do we know about the other ninety five percent? Because of the difference that they make in the normal visible physical universe. {}

*** For this reason because I have heard of your trust in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints I do not stop giving thanks for you. Remembering you in my prayers. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ – the Father of glory – will give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation for knowing him.

From our second Bible reading for today from the book of Ephesians chapter one.

Today is Ascension Sunday. When we remember and celebrate when Jesus ascends – goes up? returns? – into heaven. This is the problem of the Easter season and the promise of Ascension Sunday. The Apostles Creed which we profess together says,

*** I believe in God the Father Almighty creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate. Was crucified died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.

Even the glorious resurrection when Christ by dying defeats death and is raised to new life is not the last part of the story of salvation. We also say, He ascended into heaven. And is seated at the right hand of the Father.

*** Our other Bible reading from the book of Acts chapter one tells us that after his suffering and death Jesus presents himself alive to his friends by many proofs / he appears to them over forty days and talks about the kingdom of God. Good for them. They live with / talk with / eat with / see / touch / and hear Jesus the God-man. But what about us? How do we know? About God? heaven? Jesus?

A few years ago when I teach at Louisiana State University one morning only one student comes to class. My best student and a strong Christian and we have a wonderful conversation. She studies biology and tells me how many of her classmates do not believe in God and/or what God teaches through the Scriptures. And she looks and hopes for ways to give her friends reasons to believe in the gospel.

What I share with this wonderful intelligent young woman is this. That more and more I am convinced we cannot prove and must not try to prove the truth of the Christian faith and Christian message.

 This brings us back to our readings for this morning especially where the apostle Paul prays,

*** That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him. That the eyes of your heart will be enlightened. That you will know the hope to which he has called you. What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. And what is the greatness of his power in us who believe.

 We do not prove the Christian faith. We show the Christian faith. Several years ago a visiting scholar from Beijing says to the church, You have shown me what Christianity is.

The problem of Ascension Sunday is that Jesus is visibly and physically separated from the Christian church. And yet Christ tells us that we will be his witnesses. The promise of the Feast of the Ascension is that the Christian church receives power from God by the Holy Spirit. We are empowered to bear witness to the risen Christ. And the living Christ continues to be present through the Christian church which is his body.

Do you ask me to prove that Armetta exists? Instead let me show you that I know her and she knows me. God is not an idea that we prove. God is not even a fact. God is a personal reality who wants to know us and for us to know him.

Martin Luther – one of the great reformers of the Christian church. His favorite way to describe the Christian church – especially toward the end of his life – was die heilige Gemeinschaft ‘the holy community’.

*** I like that and would change it slightly. Wir sind die himmlische Gemeinschaft. We are the heavenly community. Community that the world can see. That represents divine reality. The community through which God and heaven reveal themselves.

*** How do we know there is dark energy and dark matter? Because of the difference they make in the universe that we can see.

*** How will the world know about God the Father creator of heaven and earth? about Jesus Christ his Son our Lord? Because the world will see that we know him. That the eyes of our heart are illumined. We are being saved and transformed. We know the hope to which God calls us. Christ has already defeated the forces of sin and death. They will see in us everything that God has for those who trust him and belong to him. And especially they will see the power of God in our lives. The same power –Paul says the same power! – the same power of the resurrection / the same power when God raised Christ to the highest place – the power of Easter and the power of the Ascension miracle is what the world will see in us.

A few years ago Robert Barron wrote:

*** The Church, guided by the Holy Spirit down through the ages, is meant to be the special place where earth and heaven come together. In good preaching, in great art, in the architecture of our places of worship, in our works of mercy and service to others, in the lives of the saints, and perhaps especially in the liturgy – in our ritual worship – earth and heaven meet. Centuries ago a king sent messengers to visit communities of faith. They experienced Christian worship and said to their king, We did not know whether we were in heaven or an earth.

Our shared life together is where heaven intrudes and pushes through into the world through us the Christian church! Where the kingdom of heaven pushes through / shines into / appears in this broken world. Like water beneath a dry land that sometimes pushes to the surface to create pools / rivers / trees and plants and places of life. Together we the church are the intrusion of heaven. As the apostle Paul explains the Christian church is the body of Christ. Who fills all things in every way – the fullness of Christ fills the Christian church.

*** Heaven intrudes and pushes through into the world through us the Christian church! We do not prove God and heaven and the resurrection. We show them in our life and work and worship together.




About Rickwright67

I am the pastor of a Methodist church, spent 18 years ministering with internationals, as an adjunct taught Hebrew Bible and Biblical Hebrew, husband and dad, love astronomy, space exploration, science-fiction, computers, animals, cinema, and more.
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