Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing

"And when Jesus had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11)

Imagine the looks on the faces of the disciples as Jesus was lifted up before their eyes. A look of such wonder, such puzzlement, such confusion that it must have lasted long after He was gone from their sight, until men in white robes interrupted them. Open-mouthed, wide-eyed astonishment. This hardly looks like the "spirit of wisdom and revelation of knowledge" Paul talks about in Ephesians. This might look like… abandonment.
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Do you ever feel abandoned by God? Do you ever feel like He's sitting in a wonderful heaven and has left you behind here on earth to toil in His absence, alone, gazing longingly to where He has gone, wondering why, if He loves you so much, didn't He take you with Him?

When we feel that way, we're looking to heaven when Christ is here with us on earth. The Ascension of our Lord does not mean that He's been separated from us. It means the opposite. Remember Jesus’ final words in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (28:20b): "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Jesus promises to be with us always, and He didn't mean in some abstract, transcendent way. He is physically with us, in His Word and in His Sacraments. Because of His perfect sacrifice, God the Father will not forsake you. You have never been abandoned even for a moment, and you never will be, though Satan delights in that feeling just like he delights in every lie.

Nevertheless, it's our sinful natures to always want more no matter how much we already have. So when feelings of abandonment creep in on us, and they inevitably will, go to church. Read the Bible. Listen to hymns. Pray. Receive the Lord’s Supper, and remind yourself of your baptism. Through these means alone, we ascend to heaven, and Christ descends to be with us.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9)

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