Ascension and Memorial Day:
Today is a day of memory, we remember those who gave their lives defending this country and we remember the Ascension of Jesus, who also gave His life to defend us from our own deaths. These two moments are tied up in the Scripture that says, “No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 We stand where we are because of the million men and women who laid their lives down for us, many who were inspired to do so following the steps of Jesus who laid His life down for us.
Why would someone be willing to give up their life for others? It is against our deepest human instinct, namely, to preserve one’s life. I do think the life of Jesus gives us the answer in His resurrection and His Ascension today.
For the last 7 weeks we have reflected on the blessing of the Resurrection and how it has brought us a new life, a new chance at life. The Easter season has been a time to remember that even in our daily lives, death does not win. Every time Jesus appeared to the disciples, He brought them and us into a deeper life. We may have experienced this in the death of a loved one, with time we learn how everything they did, every way they loved us, is “locked in” even more deeply in our hearts.
So what has the Ascension to do with all of this? It is not enough that Jesus has risen to life, today He rises to His glory at the right hand of the Father. His rising to the heavens, His Ascension, is to fill us with hope that there is something even greater waiting for us when we lay down our lives for the last time. The fulness of life we are always searching for in this life, whether it be a really good meal/our favorite food, an exciting summer vacation, an everlasting love, or medicines to heal us, always point us to a fuller life. Today Jesus’ Ascension reminds us we are meant to rise higher in this life and the next. Find the ways to rise higher, first always by taking in God’s word and Eucharist. Second, build love wherever you can, helping others in prayers and forgiveness, because this helps them to rise with you. Also, take time to learn from your elders, and lastly make some sacrifices for others giving some of your time, talent, and treasure today and this week. Everything you give, just as our deceased military members did, will take you on the journey to the new life of Easter and help us ascend to our place by God’s side.
With a heart for Mission,