I am currently commenting on the articles of the Apostle’s Creed. This is for my benefit as much as anything. These remarks are organized only because they are following the outline of the creed. So while they are not systematic, I hope they are not rambling either! I’m giving myself a refresher course and you’re invited to come along. And as you do I trust these few words may contribute something to your understanding of what it is to have faith in the God of Jesus.
I knew a pastor years ago whose grandfather came from Norway. The elderly fellow had lost a number of family members to illness in the old country, including several of his children. My pastor friend recalled how his grandfather could not understand how the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, which gave him such comfort, was made so little of by Lutherans in America. That old Norwegian knew something in his grief and sorrow about the significance of the Ascension. He believed the promise that “This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come again in the same way…” (Acts 1).
My suspicion is that the Ascension of Jesus into heaven has lost traction with many in the church today due to the preoccupation with worldliness and this life which has become so widespread. When I was in the seminary over 30 years ago, I recall fellow students mockingly referring to those who emphasized the hope of heaven as being “So heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” I recently commented on this in another blog post to the effect that the Church has gone to the other extreme with a vengeance. Today many in the Church are so worldly minded they are no heavenly good. On any given Sunday, as we drag the sins and griefs we bear into church, we are likely to be greeted with words admonishing our lack of passion for peace and justice. It’s no longer ‘What a Friend we Have in Jesus, it’s ‘What Friend we Should be to the World’.
For my part, I stand among the heavenly-minded with that old Norwegian. Our eyes filled with longing, looking hopefully to the heavens, we await with joy the Lord, our Friend, our Savior who will return to fulfill the promise He died to keep;.
“ In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that where I am you may be also.”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Tomorrow: “And is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.”