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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Today’s Reading | Luke 24:50–53

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (NRSV)

There are times I have a harder time believing in the ascension than the resurrection. Isn’t that odd? It may be because the resurrection is at the core of our faith and the Easter celebrations. We are an “Easter people.” After the victory over sin and death, the ascension can feel underwhelming.

Another reason might be the ambiguity of what or where “heaven” is. We're conditioned at an early age (fess up, parents) to think that heaven is in the sky somewhere. On a beautiful spring day, who has the heart to argue otherwise?

Is God in heaven? Hard to say, since God surpasses all human understanding. Concepts like location hardly apply. God is all powerful, the creator of all things, beyond the concepts of time and space. His omnipresence dilutes our notion that heaven is an actual place.

But Jesus was and is a physical being. Jesus walked this earth with people. He felt joy, heartache, betrayal, suffering, anguish, loneliness, and death. He knows down to his core what life is like for us. He is fully divine and fully human. And out on the countryside near Bethany, with blessings from him and praise from his disciples, he was lifted into heaven.

It doesn't matter where he went. It's the why that's crucial. Jesus is now with God, at God’s right hand. He became human for us, defeated death for us, and carries that experience for us. We have this assurance when we pray, that the Father and the Son know what we are going through, and how we've tried and fallen short, and love us nonetheless.

Dear Lord, through all the mysteries of faith, help me hold tightly to my greatest certainty: that you love me. Amen.

Written by Jim Garner, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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