My Neck Aches

Luke 24:44-53, Acts 1:1-11 – Ascension Day – for June 1, 2014

“When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9)

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the get-go, like eating all of your boiled spinach before you can even contemplate one bite of the apple pie a la mode dessert.

I don’t think Jesus ascended “to heaven.” I don’t think there was a moment on a hillside with a gaggle of disciples, Jesus bestowing some final marching instructions, and then—a cloud as heavenly elevator—rising into the Wedgwood blue sky over Jerusalem.

Sorry, rap my knuckles with a ruler or threaten me with getting none of that apple pie and its melting ice cream with real flecks of vanilla beans, but I’ll not change my rational, scholarly, faithful mind about the ascension. Maybe when—with apologies to St. Paul—I “spoke like a child” and “thought like a child” I might have believed Jesus’ departure a la cloud from terra firma into and beyond the troposphere. But I’m an adult now and have put an “end to childish ways.”

MOUNT EVEREST HEROESHe ascended into heaven, the Apostle’s Creed declared. I bite my tongue, I resist a smirk. I think about Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay nearing Everest’s summit, oxygen masks on. I’ve listened to serious airline attendants warn about the masks that will drop in case of an emergency. The air’s thin “up there.” And it’s nippy.

And yet. And yet. Continue reading →