Date: June 5, 2011
Liturgical Sunday: Seventh Sunday of Easter / Ascension Sunday
Sermon Title: Did Jesus have to ascend?
Knox Presbyterian [audio:https://wordsfromthemiddle.ca/wp-content/uploads/110605_-_Knox.mp3|titles=Did Jesus have to ascend?]
St. Mark’s Presbyterian [audio:https://wordsfromthemiddle.ca/wp-content/uploads/110605_-_St_Marks.mp3|titles=Did Jesus have to ascend?]
Ascension Sunday, at least sort of. The Ascension of the Lord was actually June 2 but not being at church that day I thought it would better to preach about this particular high holy day today.
As I mentioned in both sermons, there is considerable overlap (at least for me) between Ascension and Pentecost so I am hoping that I haven’t ended up “stealing the thunder” of next Sunday but I don’t think so.
As anyone who is following this blog or who has had the good/mis-fortune 🙂 to sit under my preaching for any length of time you know how fond I am of sermon titles that are questions. As I have said before I do this for two reasons: first, preaching should answer questions even if I have to pose the question myself; and, second, questions ignite a completely different kind of thinking than even the cutest of cutesy titles or for that matter, even simple propositional statements. One of the benefits of using a question is that it allows me to deal with the (potential) multiple layers of meaning in the question. For example, this week’s sermon title allowed me to spend some time addressing the simple mechanical aspects of Jesus’ ascension, i.e. why did he leave that way? Then we spent some time with what it means that Jesus ascended, i.e. left. One question, two very profitable areas of answer. I like questions as sermon titles.
One quick word about a particular word that I use in both sermons. The word condescend has very particular theological meanings that I have reviewed with both congregations but I’m not sure I have done it here. This has nothing to do with the current definition of being “condescending” in the sense that you are being haughty or looking down on anyone. The word is used here to characterize God’s willingness to lower Himself to our level so that we might be able to understand. It is much the same way that we condescend to use “boo boo” rather than “hematoma” when discussing the bruise that a toddler has just displayed for our inspection.
I hope that you will find one or both of these sermons to be a blessing to you.