#Access is the Podcast for May 8, 2016. The Ascension is an ignored and discounted aspect of Christianity. That is a mistake. Mark Kurowski makes the case for how the Ascension ties all things together, especially access to power, spirituality, and grace. Listen here in this reflection: Download it into your phone. #MSAWordfortheDay # MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #FrancescaBattistelli #Heaven #Luke24 #Acts1 #Ascension #Heaven #Resurrection #Citizen
Access: A Reflection on Luke 24 and Acts 1
Full Podcast Text, Open Here
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 5/8/2016 The 6th Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11.
Access and More: A Reflection on Luke 24 and Acts 1.
I remember when I worked on a political campaign many years ago, I was young and appalled at all the money involved in politics. I was deeply enough involved that one day a staffer on the campaign let their guard down and began rationalizing, “You do know that the money is not for favors, it is for access, right?” Looking confused at how money couldn’t curry favors, my face betrayed me.
He went on to explain, “the money is just to make sure that their point of view can be heard. So, the big donors give big money to make sure that the door to Congressman’s office will always be open.” I thought, “what about the rest of us?”
This week we will celebrate the Ascension. Well, actually, we will probably just zip through Thursday like it didn’t exist. That is a shame. Even John Wesley, the founder of the Methodists, included Ascension Thursday in his list of Holy Days of Obligation. We ought to pay more attention to the Ascension, because the Ascension is the “all-things-coming-together” of Jesus uniting heaven and earth.
We all know that Jesus paid the price for us. Unlike politicians, God does not require us to pay money in order to have access to him. Jesus paid the price for our sins so that there could be the Resurrection. We have the Resurrected Body which defies all physics and is both fully spiritual and fully physical. With that Resurrected body which awaits us, Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. This means that there is a physical person who lived our life in heaven connecting heaven and earth, all in one person.
Heaven, here, is not an upward place. Heaven is an all encompassing place. It surrounds us. As St. Patrick said in his prayer, “Christ above me, Christ below me, Christ within me, Christ without me, Christ in front of me, Christ behind me,” Christ IS. With heaven all around us, Christ is at the center. As we saw with his appearances to the Apostles, he can show up at any time and any place. There are no restrictions on his body.
The Ascension means that the graces of God in Heaven are available to us through Jesus Christ, for all times, all places, all at once. In Baptism, we are given the grace to be joined to Jesus Christ, in Him, with Him, and by Him. That means that not only is Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father, we are, too. In the Eucharist, we are joined together with everyone that is part of Christ in Baptism, past, present, and future.
Wait, past, present, and future? Yes, past, present, and future. This is because there is no time in Heaven. Time is just now. There is no tomorrow. There is no yesterday. There is no later. There is just now. In fact, with Jesus coming to earth, being born our birth, living our life, walking our walk, dying our death, rising to resurrected bodily life, and now ascending to heaven he has now joined heaven and earth together. He has joined all history and all future into one “now.”
Time is like a sphere, a ball that has all time exploded at points all over inside. Jesus is at the center of this time sphere, binding heaven and earth. He can access any time, any season, just like the Doctor.
Similar to the TV show Dr. Who, in which the Tardis, a living time machine, that moves to different points in time freely, Jesus moves to all times freely. We, too, have access to these points in time through Christ because he sits at the right hand of God. He is a full human, transformed in a Resurrected body. So, he has access to all people in all times. Sometimes, people point out how similar religions are to Christianity to debunk Christianity. However, because we believe that Jesus Christ has access to all time and space, we can believe that other religions got their similarities from hearing Christ in their age through their wisdom. The idea that Christ couldn’t have spoken to them is false because heaven is not an existence way far away in a distant time, it is now.
The fact that heaven is now means that if we believe it, then we have access to spiritual wisdom from all times and space through prayer and devout listening. So, Children can know things beyond their years because they listen more attentively to the Spirit of God. They hear Jesus speaking from the right hand of the Father in heaven.
The fact that heaven is now means that if we believe it, then we have access to incredible power. When the job is tough, when we are harrassed, when we are persecuted, when we think we cannot handle the anxieties of life, when we are poor, working too long, making too little, we know that the way people live in this reality is ridiculous in many ways. We can draw our power and strength to turn the other cheek and find solutions to injustice peacefully can be found from our access to the Lordship of Christ in heaven and earth.
We are not tied to anything, but Christ. The theologian Carl Holladay encourages us to take a moment and to stop looking at life from the perspective of humans on a finite planet, locked in a time line of life, but to sit with Jesus at the Right Hand of God looking at all things from that vantage point. As the hymn and song by Francesca Battisteli says, “The things of earth will grow strangely dim.” This perspective of life means that we can love the people of the world, while not being of the world. The perspective of remembering who we are and whose we are is incredible in light of the Ascension.
When was the last time you have appropriated the power of God from the right hand of his throne? When was the last time you stopped yourself from answering the hateful comment from that person in your life, you know, THAT person, and said, “I am a child of the Most High King! I know who is in charge. I don’t even have to answer that.” I one time had a District Superintendent, when I was a Methodist Minister, and she would say when something outrageous happened in the Church, “Hmph, God knows.” Yes, God does know, and so should we!
Not only is there a spiritually physical Jesus who gives us access to the universe, he gives us access to God’s grace through all things. This is the source of the change in our world view. Too often we Christians become new agey in our spirituality. We act as if this world is the center of all existence and that what God provides is an escape from physicality to some sort of spiritual misty existence of bliss that has all the things we like around each of us in a spiritual mansion that helps us escape from the taxing nature of this world. That view of existence is too small, friends.
Abba Maximos would tell stories of how the saints would appear in bodily form to the monks on Mount Athos in Greece. He was speaking about it happening now. How does that happen? It happens when we are open to the idea that our concepts of how the physical is transformed to have spiritual properties in Jesus Christ. All disease, all worry, all pain, all of this we must over come in our own private Gethsemani moment. It is a moment where we stop listening to the garbage from all around us and believe that although we know HOW God made the universe, we do not believe God is subject to the rules of the universe. When we believe that and believe that we have been baptized into the God-man, then all things are possible through him who saved us.
We have access, man! Dead or alive, we have access. Death or life really don’t matter, but that we live them to the fullest in loving God and neighbor. Our access is not with money, it is with a relationship with Jesus Christ, lived daily, in the now. Believe and be thankful. Thanks be to God. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2016.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian