Monthly Archives: May 2017

Where is Jesus?

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Ascension Day

Acts 1:1-11

May 28, 2017


The original Star Wars movie is 40 years old this week.


I was in junior high when it first came out.

Everyone was talking about it

and so even though I didn’t see it that first opening,

it wasn’t long before I knew all about Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker,

and R2D2 and C3PO.


Humanity has always been fascinated by the stars…

By ‘what’s out there,’ beyond the naked eye…

By outer space.


George Lucas’ special effects captured our imaginations,

and John Williams’ score captured our emotions,

as together we were taken to a galaxy far far away.


For those of us who have seen Star Wars and its prequels and sequels,

it seems a bit odd to hear how Luke tells the story of the Ascension –

of Jesus taken up into the clouds, taken beyond the stars.


For those of us who have flown up and over the clouds;

For those of us who have seen images of the planet earth from space;

For those of us who have watched space shuttles launch,

and followed the work at the international space station,

and imagined ourselves taking a tourist trip into space someday…

the story of the Ascension seems odd.

Where did he go?


At the time of Luke, the universe was thought to have 3 tiers:

There was the earth, the sea, and the heavens.


The earth was thought to be a disc,

held up on pillars and surrounded by the sea.


Beyond this were the lower heavens

which held the sun and stars and planets.


And then there were the upper heavens – “highest heavens”

which was the dwelling place of God – (or the gods).

“Glory to God in the highest heaven.”


Over the centuries,

the church hasn’t always been on board to accept new astronomical discoveries

which challenged this arrangement.


Galileo was condemned as a heretic,

for suggesting the earth revolved around the sun.


Martin Luther, not typically a biblical literalist,

calls Copernicus a fool based on a passage from the book of Joshua.


In one of his Table Talk conversations  –

conversations held around the dinner meal and recorded by his students –

Luther says,


“There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, …But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must needs invent something special, ..! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, … Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth.”[i]


A challenge on Ascension Day in a post Stars Wars world,

Is what to make of this story –

what to celebrate on this festival –

if we don’t take it literally.

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End Of The Orphan Train

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Easter 6A – End of the Orphan Train

John 14:15-21

May 21, 2017


In the mid-1800’s there were an estimated

30,000 homeless, orphaned, and abandoned children in New York City.


Some of these children were orphaned when their parents died

from typhoid, yellow fever or the flu.[2]

Others were abandoned due to poverty or addiction.[2]


Many children sold matches, rags, or newspapers to survive.[3]

For protection against street violence, they got together and formed gangs.[3

They lived on the streets

without much hope of a better life.


In a kind of early foster care program –

with both the blessings and abuses of modern day foster care –

the Children’s Aid Society sent some of these children

by train to live and work on farms out west.


The orphan train movement lasted from 1853 through the early 1900’s.


The movement began with the heartfelt belief

In a handful of community leaders that no child should be left alone…

That children should feel safe.

That they should be loved and cared for.


Today’s gospel reminds us that regardless how old we are;

Whether we have living parents or not;

It is human to want to feel safe.

It is human to want to be loved and cared for.

It is human to be afraid of being left alone.


Jesus tells his disciples…and each of us today…

You are not alone.

You are never alone.

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The Voice

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Easter 4A – The Voice

John 10:1-10

May 7, 2017


I’ve never had a good sense of direction.


So when I started Kindergarten long ago,

I was worried – I wasn’t sure how I was going to get home.


I didn’t have to walk home;

And I didn’t have to find the right bus home;

The only thing I had to do was leave the school on the correct side of the building –

the Livingston Avenue side…

and that would be where my mother would be parked to drive me home.


I remember getting anxious pretty much every day though,

that I would miss the cue –

that someday the older student who was the line leader would forget to come to my room,

or the teacher would forget to call out Livingston Avenue –

and I’d be completely lost –

I’d never find my way to my mother’s car and then home.


Each day there was the same routine.

One of the older kids would come to our classroom door,

And the teacher would call out:

“Bus students line up” – and then out the door they’d walk.

“Stratford Avenue line up” – and out the door they’d walk.


I was on pins and needles by this time!

But finally, the voice, “Livingston Avenue line up” came.

And every time – every time – I would breathe a sigh of relief…

That’s me!

I will get home one more day!

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