Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this Mother’s day we thank You for providing us with Christian mothers who mentor us and comfort us and love us in spite of our failings. We thank You for etching their love so firmly in our hearts that we joyfully and willingly remember to give our love back to them on days such as this. Today we ask that You also etch Your love so firmly in our hearts that we never fail to return a portion of Your love for us back to You, either. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM OUR ASCENDED LORD JESUS CHRIST!
TEXT: Acts 1: 1-14
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Have you ever forgotten your Mother’s birthday? Have you ever forgotten to send a card to her or call her on Mother’s Day? Ooops! No doubt she forgave you. Mother’s always seem to. But, I’ll bet you felt like a bit of a heel and resolved never to forget it again.
Because we’re human and get caught up in our own lives, often we forget some very important things. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays, your kid’s special school program are a few occasions that come to mind. But once you realized your oversight and the inadvertent hurt that it caused those who love you, I’ll bet that special date became firmly fixed in your mind.
Not only do we overlook important dates when it comes to our loved ones. Sometimes we forget occasions that are important to our God. Ascension is a prime example. Last Thursday night we celebrated Ascension service here at church. The vast majority of the congregation was not present. Why? Because most of you forgot. But, did any of you forget Christmas? Did any of you forget Easter? No! I suppose that’s because our culture makes a big deal of that dates, but neglects Ascension. And that’s too bad. For Ascension in its own way is just as vital and important to our faith as either Christmas or Easter. In fact, Ascension could be termed an even more joyous day than either of those other two. For those holidays are about the joy that we receive from the hand of our gracious God. They are all about us receiving and Him giving. Whereas Ascension is about the joy that Christ received and experienced when He got to go back home to heaven. Yes, Ascension also reminds us that Christ has gone to prepare a place for us in glory, that He now can instantaneously hear and answer our prayers without us waiting in line to get to Him as happened when He walked this earth, and that He now is using His divine power to be with His people everywhere, all the time. But, really, the joy of the day is about Jesus going home to His victory party in heaven.
Mother’s day isn’t about you; it’s about your mother. Your attendance at your father’s 75th birthday party isn’t about you; it’s about him receiving your honor and you sharing his joy. Each of you instinctively knows that. And you would not dream of subtracting from such joy by turning the day’s focus unto yourself. But, when we forget about or neglect our Lord’s ascension, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Well, I didn’t come here today to scold you or to make you feel bad. What I did come here for was to etch upon your soul this important truth, namely:
DON’T FORGET THE UNFORGETTABLE!
Imagine where you and I would be if Christ had forgotten to be born? No Savior means no salvation. No Savior means no eternal life. Imagine where we would be if Jesus had forgotten to willingly die on the cross for us? No death means no forgiveness for sins and no peace with God. Imagine if Christ has forgotten to rise from the dead? No resurrection would mean no heaven. It would mean no freedom from fear and the darkness of the grave. But, Jesus didn’t forget to do any of those things God had promised. For God never forgets any of His promises to us hurting sinners.
In our lesson Jesus makes a few more promises that He didn’t forget to keep, either. During those 40 days before His ascension He reminded His followers of the promised gift of the Spirit. And He also promised that they would be baptized “with the Holy Spirit.” This, of course, is the promise of Pentecost which we celebrate next week. Then, when they ask about the growth of His kingdom on this earth, He promised them special power to spread His message of love and forgiveness. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” St. Matthew records another promise Jesus made right before His ascension, too. Recall Jesus giving His Church His great commission to: “Go and make disciples.” And at the end of that command, He adds: “Lo, I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Everything God says is important. Everything He promises He does. He never forgets or overlooks anything or anyone. And what a comfort that is when we’re feeling forlorn and forgotten.
I know that Ascension is on an odd-ball night. I know the news doesn’t report it or make a big deal about it. But, that’s exactly why I’m doing so today! I want to make it unforgettable to you! I want you to have the honor and joy of sharing in Christ’s joy over going home!
As Jesus arose toward heaven, eventually a cloud hid Him from the disciples’ sight. (And by the way, if we piece together all the various accounts of this event as found in the Bible, it was not just the 11 who saw this, no, over 500 followers witnessed this glorious event!) Well, after the cloud hid Him, those people were simply staring up to the sky when suddenly two angels appeared in their midst. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Obviously this was a watershed event in the life of the early church—hence the appearance of angels. And obviously God wanted to comfort them with the reminder that some day Jesus would return to take His people home with Him.
When they get back to Jerusalem and assemble in the Upper Room, we find it filled with those closest to Christ. The apostles are there along with various women close to Him, His mother Mary, and even His brothers who had earlier in His ministry rejected Him. But now they don’t reject anymore, they believe. They have seen the miracles, heard the sermons, seen His death and resurrection. It caused them to believe because it was all so unforgettable.
I hope after today Jesus’ Ascension will remain unforgettable to you, as well. So mark your calendars for next year—on the Thursday 40 days after Easter. And take this comfort home today and remember it throughout the coming year. Namely, Christ has not and will never forget about you….Amen