Today the Church celebrates Ascension Day, one of the lesser celebrated holidays in the Presbyterian Church.
Hebrews exalts the new focus on Christ’s solidarity with all humanity. He throws around words like “sanctifies” and “suffering” and “subjecting all things to them”. As I read it, I could not help but think about the honor of being able to study Liberation Theology with Gustavo Gutierrez at Princeton. He arguably invented that whole way of thinking about God.
As I think about this theology, with its focus on seeing the Christian faith through the eyes of the poor and oppressed and also focusing on Christ as Liberator, I see Hebrews come alive. This book is not old and obsolete, but fresh and alive for modern ears.
To know Christ as the pioneer, one who was made perfect by suffering, I cannot help but feel a closer kinship with God. As our country struggles, and the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, I clearly know where God is. God is standing with the poor. God is shouting about salvation, but it is no longer an exposition about “taking Jesus into your heart,” the heresy of personal salvation and individualism that continue to haunt the Church. Instead it is about the salvation of humankind…from suffering…from ourselves…from one another
I have always struggled with those who want to leave faith at this: “take Jesus into your heart.” As if the battle is won. The battle has just begun!
We serve a God who ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father. This has to do with majesty and power. What did we think our part was? Sitting around gawking? Our Savior is on the Judgment Seat and demands our allegiance – one through servitude and suffering, humility, and obedience.
This is the true demand of Matthew 28 anyway! The Great Commission is about going into the world, teaching, and sharing, and OBEYING “everything that I have taught you.” It is about God being with us to the end of the age and acting accordingly.
As you encounter this holy day for the Church Universal, I ask you to commit yourself, once again to a post-ascension existence which demands action, as well as your heart.