A sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Randle R. (Rick) Mixon
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto, CA
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Text: Acts 1:6-11 (The Message); John 17:1-11 (NRSV)
“Well, dear Theophilus, God-lovers all, the story continues…” writes Luke at the very beginning of the book of The Acts of the Apostles. His aim is to show how Jesus lives on in the life of the church through the empowerment and direction of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the one who fills Christ’s followers with courage and strength. The text tells us that life in the Holy Spirit is not only promised to the disciples in the days to come, the Spirit is actually the One through whom they have received instructions from Jesus. The Spirit has already been active in their lives indirectly; now they are promised direct experience of that same Spirit.
Much of Christian tradition has made a claim for the Resurrection as the culmination of Jesus’ life and ministry, but a case can be made for the Ascension. John, in particular, argues this. “…now I am no longer in the world…I am coming to you… glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed,” Jesus prays to God. John wants us to understand that Jesus’ journey is, most importantly, from there to here and back. But, just as important is the message that this journey is also ours. We come from God; we return to God; and always and forever it is in God that we live and move and have our being. This is crucial to what Jesus was trying to show those first followers – and us – in the Incarnation.
Continue reading From There to Here and Back
It’s meatball season! Also known as Graduation Season to some, but to Youth Ministers who bounce around to graduation parties (that serve those delicious little saucy meatballs on toothpicks simmering in a crockpot all day) to celebrate the seniors being sent off to their college adventures, it’s meatballs season. Parents, friends, and neighbors are traveling to campuses all over the country to hear commencement speeches at which the students themselves are usually scoffing for being inadequately woke. And of course, Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is selling like hotcakes.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was the last book Theodor Seuss Geisel published before he died in 1991. He addresses the great balancing act of life, the ups and downs it presents while encouraging us to find the success that lies within us as well. When the critical eye strips away the Seuss-ian tongue ties and linguistic flip flops we find a little boy named “You” on a journey with a few vague obstacles and a vague happy ending: “Kid, you’ll move mountains!” Or at least that’s what many of the articles, book reviews, and online blogs had to say.
This is where as Christians I think we have a different take on things and how our inclusion of the word “gospel” changes things up. “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss” says to me that we are talking about being a Resurrection people in a Good-Friday world. When death and oppression have taken over the day, we lay claim to Resurrection hope by embodying grace and infusing hate with love. If the cynics think Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is just utopian dreams, I’d say it’s a dream worth dreaming in our Trumpified world. We need to dream better dreams if walls, wars, and weapons are our current ones. At Pentecost when the Spirit falls on the disciples, Peter addresses them in Acts 2:17 proclaiming,
“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.”
May we see visions and may we dream dreams of kids moving mountains for the Glory of God! May walls of division crumble, may swords be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, may nation not take up sword against nation, nor train for war anymore.