Saturday, May 23, 2015


A reflection on the Ascension (05/15/15)

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week pondering these words of Jesus in the gospel of Luke from the feast of the Ascension: "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. ”

In court, a witness is the person who tells the story of a particular event as they understand it. Witnesses today vow to tell “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” and submit to being questioned about it.

This is our task as believers. To tell our story of salvation, speaking the whole truth of it, not just the part the world is willing to hear. As witnesses, we must allow ourselves to be examined by sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile questioners.

Jesus tells us that we are witnesses of repentance – and we aren’t talking here about saying 10 Hail Mary’s as an antidote for telling a lie, or being remorseful over doing bad things (though that is the proper response). Repentance is about change. To repent is to change how we think, and therefore, how we act.

The early church had to repent of its expectation that the Messiah would be a king like David and accept the truth of the suffering servant who died on the cross and rose again. Once they repented, they could proclaim the truth of salvation in Jesus the Christ. As witnesses today, we must examine what expectations, beliefs, and habits get in our way and repent of them.

We are also witnesses of forgiveness of sin. Sin is whatever separates us from God, whatever interferes with our right relationships with God and one another. The truth of our story is that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus set us free from the power of sin to interfere and separate us. We have been reconciled to God in Jesus who sends us to reconcile in his name.

Telling the whole truth of our salvation story means living lives of repentance (change) and forgiveness (reconciliation). It also means speaking the words that bring change and reconciliation from ideas to reality. I am grateful to be among a people who work so hard witnessing the truth of our salvation story.

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