The Ascension Graduation

May 13, 2018

It is an important day in the life of every faith community on earth.  What is at the core and essential about this event is that Jesus leaves the disciples with a very important task.  Go.  They are told they cannot stay in the place of comfort, the place of security.  They are to take the message into the world.  This means into the streets, the workplaces, the homes and most importantly into our hearts.  This mandate is then passed on by apostolic tradition to every one of us.  It must have been difficult for the early disciples.  They were used to the familiarity of their lives.  They were used to having everything stay the way it was.  Now Jesus is inviting them to a radical change.  He was no longer to be with them in the usual ways they were accustomed to.  They liked Him taking the lead. They loved Him making His post-resurrection appearances and holding them close to Himself.  Now they were challenged to walk by faith without the same sense of security.  We are to do the same.

I can remember learning to ride a two wheel bicycle. It was easy to have a tricycle, when balance was easy because the center of gravity was arranged in such a way that the person driving was in the center of the three wheels.  As one graduated to a two wheeler, balance was not so easy.  Leaning one way or the other sometimes caused the rider to overcompensate.  When I graduated to a two wheeler, I began with training wheels.  My new red bike had the wheels attached to the back axle.  It caught me from falling over when I was leaning too far one way or the other.  Then came the big day when the training wheels were removed.  There was great fear and yet great joy to be able to handle the balance for myself.  I learned essential ways to navigate obstacles that would throw off my balance.  I learned to look ahead to anticipate fast turns without losing balance.  Without training wheels I could go to new places and experience new things, such as going across the street, jumping curbs and flying at new speeds.

Today the training wheels are removed because it is graduation day.  We are to find our way of balancing our faith and living it.   Jesus is saying to us “Go!” He is inviting us to learn how to look ahead and navigate the fast curves and steep inclines that will face us.  He trusts us to learn to trust ourselves by trusting His belief in us.  Graduation is a sending forth, while relying on what one has learned.  The Ascension is commissioning us to go forth and proclaim the Gospel everywhere we go.  Jesus takes off the training wheels and gives us a push.  He tells us the Holy Spirit will be with us always to help us to remember how to keep our balance and open up our hearts to all that Jesus shared with us.

Graduations always come with great joy.  This weekend our Gospel is to be one of great joy.

God believes we can do this; let’s prove Him right.

Reverend John J. Ouper