A Third Way

Luke 24:44-53 & Acts 1:1-11 – Ascension Sunday – for May 20, 2012

“…They said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand look up toward heaven?”

Am I a bad boy for not believing?

Here, take the chalk, hustle over to the old blackboard and start writing.

Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud. Jesus ascended to heaven on a cloud.

Ten times. It could be a hundred. For me, it doesn’t matter how often the chalk screeches across the board.

And yet shouldn’t I feel bad, maybe don a dunce cap and mope in the digital corner of a virtual classroom, for not believing that less than two months after his resurrection, Jesus was “lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight?” According to the Acts of the Apostles, that’s what happened! Or, maybe, since a cloud (nor two men in white robes) wasn’t mentioned in the other version—Luke’s Gospel—Jesus simply “withdrew from them and was lifted into heaven?”

Hold your horses and scriptural references! Acts had Jesus on a cloud…but Luke didn’t? Two men were present in Acts…but absent in Luke? Why couldn’t the guy who wrote both Luke and Acts get his facts straight? Uh-oh, with a question like that I may have to retreat to the blackboard for more screechy punishment . . .

I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says. I believe everything the Bible says.

I’m a bad, bad boy.

I also don’t believe the world was created in six days (though I lean toward believing And on the seventh day, God napped…), crossing the Red Sea without a need for a dry change of clothes, Elijah swooshing upward on a flaming chariot, Daniel in the den of lions, three wise guys from the east or nearly any prediction in the Revelation of John.

Quite a few objects reach into the atmosphere...don't think reaching heaven on a cloud is one of them.**

Sorry, I don’t believe Jesus ascended through the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere and beyond.

What don’t you believe?

But with God, all things are possible. Right? Haven’t even I, Mr. Don’t Take The Bible Literally, claimed that statement before? If I believe in the divine power of forgiveness shared between two people or the transcendent gift of a sacrament found in a bit of bread and a dollop of wine, why can’t I wrap my faith around Jesus’ flight beyond the pull of gravity and through the earth’s atmosphere? I. Just. Don’t.

But this I do believe:  however anyone reads the accounts of Jesus’ birth-life-message-ministry-betrayal-death-and-life-again, every book in the Christian testaments (the 27 books of the traditional canon or the thousands of tales never included) arm-wrestled with the truth of . . . his absence. Continue reading →

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