The Big Plans of God


Scripture  Matthew 28:16-20


And Jesus came and said to them,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”



Today we celebrate the Feast of Ascension. It is a major transition gospel between the historical life of Jesus on earth and the Pentecostal presence of Father-Son-Spirit with us on our earthly journey - yes, until the end of the age. When I go, Jesus has told them, I will send you the Spirit and you will have an Advocate to call upon at all times. And remember my promise - 'You will accomplish even greater things than I did because the Spirit I send, will live in you and remind you of all.' Such a loving departure message.  


Here is how the story is told in the Synopic Gospels: Jesus extended an invitation to his Eleven to come to a meeting. Come up to a very familiar hill where they had often sat and shared. The Mount of Ascension was their meeting place. They go, expecting to meet their Master. I don’t suppose they knew it was to be the last visit; there had been other visits since his resurrection. Do any of us know when it will be the last visit? None of us knows it is going to be the last visit with our loved ones! Jesus realized it was his time to farewell; time for him to depart from this earth. He has completed his paschal journey. He has done his destiny. He has accomplished the fullness of what he was sent to do. And he has helped his early disciples walk the journey with him.


And from the Mount of Ascension where they gather, he speaks some very powerful words to them and they ring out to us today. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And I am passing this power on to each one of you. This is the only power we have to live the rest of our lives. The power of God -awesome! This power of God indwelling within us, yes, living with us, and abiding with us until the end of time. Such a consolation from the departing Jesus. "My power will be with you and that will be enough.”


The second mandate Jesus gives that afternoon on the hill is “Go, my brothers, make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. Go now – I am sending you in My power - make disciples of all peoples, of all nations, right to the very ends of the earth.” And his last words: “Know that I am with you always.” And then angels came and he was lifted up and taken from their sight. Just imagine those first bedazzled disciples hearing in the core of their beings, these strong words that they are going to have the power of Jesus in them. Imagine that. He is counting on us Eleven to do something like, take “this message” to all the ends of the earth! Truly, God has ‘big’ plans for us.


Our Ascension experience is about being ready to receive ‘the big plans’ of God for our lives too. We must believe his final words of blessing: I have a big work for you. I have a big mission for you and you will do it in the power of my name. I am now living in you. “I am sending upon you what my Father promised - my Spirit will cloth you with power!” You have an inward knowing already. God is taking you, luring you, loving you. God has big dreams for you and says I can accomplish them in you and through you, if you will let me.


So before we leave our hill of ascension we have a couple things to do, as those early disciples did. This is the day you take a deep breath and say, “no more”. This is the day of decision when I declare that I refuse to cling to my old story of pain and woundedness anymore. I do not want to keep myself trapped in my past. It is time to be up and away, to go with staff in hand, putting a mantle around my shoulders and look out into the future. It is time now to step out with grace and courage! My mission lies before me. There is a big picture. I will let my “old story” ascend! Let it go! I may wish to have a ritual of some sort to celebrate this day of moving on. I might burn some logs in the fireplace, visit a gravesite, take down out of sight the wounded things that haunt me and remind me of my suffering. I am now in this new place in the paschal cycle of my life and God’s life and God’s love want to completely fill me. And I will let ‘the old story’ go and let it give me its blessing. That cup of suffering that I picked up some time ago and carried all these years has made me strong, given me character, integrity. Enduring the suffering has filled us with empathy and compassion. Divine Love has been inflowing into us as we were being purified of all that was false and inauthentic. People in the world today need to meet folks like this. Some of us need to be transformed this far along in the journey to give hope and direction to others.


Here is a wonderful “Letting Go” Mantra Prayer one might say over and over…

I release you. I release me.

I set you free. I set me free.

I love you. I love me.


ASCENSION is a wonderfully celebrative day! There is a second work of ascension. That is, be sure you know your unique Mission. The angel appears to them after Jesus disappears into a cloud and asks them: “Why are you looking up into the heavens?”  You must now rather look out at the harvest – the wheat fields are ready – go out and spread the good news. You must take the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. Go and be heralds. Go out to the entire world. I will be with you always! The power from on high will work in you. Their sending forth and being made a disciple is like “having had a spiritual awakening," they must go out now and pay forward by helping others. Go and be a guide to others, support and mentor another soul on their paschal journey. Just before Jesus departs this earth, he gives his rather shaky group of followers this counsel: "Return to the city and don’t leave until you feel yourself clothed with power from on high.” So to the upper room they went and waited together - until they felt the fire of Pentecost.

Carrying Grace    I will spend this week in prayer in my 'upper room' awaiting the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost.  Veni Sancte Spiritus...                                                                                                                            



#1 arletteh 2011-06-05 18:07
Was the mountain in Galilee to which Jesus invited his disciples to meet him
the Mount of the Beatitudes? The Beatitudes, the blueprint for Jesus' gospel.The apostles had time to reflect on those teachings as they went back to Galilee.The Spirit would have time to work within them.May that same Spirit grow and manifest within us,as we await Pentecost, Come, Holy Spirit!

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