Ascension Day

We people fly at higher game. Always higher faster, further. That not only sounds like Olympia and doping. No, since years the slogan of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is: Growth, growth, growth. The German economy is growing, Germany is export nation No. 1 in Europe. But social justice falls by the wayside. We help people in conflict areas all over the world and spend millions for refugees inland, while the child poverty in Germany is always increasing and people on welfare hardly scratch along. “Too little to live on and too much to die on.” “We are living better than ever before”, can you hear from Angela Merkel. But who is “us”? Not the many of population but a handful of the rich, whose richness is arising because of tax privileges and because the salaries and wages stay low. Who is paying over 40 years with a normal average income into the pension fund, will get a pension, which is on the level of nowadays social welfare.

Another has a similar creed: Donald Trump. He neither cares about war nor peace or about the preservation of creation, but with him the end justifies the means. He cheerfully meets dictators and delivers weapons hell for leather. He doesn’t care what they do with them as long it boosts American economy. He cancels environmental protection amendments and doesn’t care a bit about worldwide climate. But as the simple and genius sculpture “Himmelsstürmer” (“Man walking to the sky”) in Kassel warningly shows us, that the end of the line soon is reached.

The human, who believes in progress and greedily strives for growth, as if they is no tomorrow runs naive in his disaster. The sky is within his grasp. Always more, always more. Only a few steps and the “Johnny-look-in-the-air” – human of modern times, who only thinks of himself and neither of his next nor the environment, falls into the death and takes everything with him.

“Der Himmelsstürmer” is not a phenomenon of modern times, he also could be someone who takes part in building the tower of Babel. “We want to be like God” was the maxim of its builders. Everything is possible, everything is manageable, everything allowed. We live like we like it. Regardless of the consequences.

Who swims against the mainstream becomes excluded by society as an eccentric. Who criticizes the system like Denis Yücel becomes arrested in Turkey or worse: in totalitarian countries he is put against the wall and shot. Someone else who also must let his life because he didn’t fit in and disturbed the religious peace, was Jesus. No one likes to hear uncomfortable truths. First he is praised to the skies, then killed at the cross.

But God doesn’t let Jesus down. For God’s love to us humans is stronger than death. He awakes Jesus from the dead. That you can believe or not. This decides if I’m a Christian or not. But finally love then and now can’t be proved. And where are already proofs for God as defined by science? Would God be God at all, if I could understand and prove him? No.

Just as little there are proofs for the resurrection of Jesus. The empty grave, the posthumous meeting of Jesus with the disciples, all that aren’t proofs as defined by todays science. Therefore we can do little with “Ascension Day” and rather celebrate at that day something else: Father’s Day.

Does it appear to us too much as science fiction or old world view in which the earth is a disc and the sky is at the top? Do we think too materialistic, when we are imagining the ascension of Jesus?

I myself actually have no big problems to believe the events around Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Jesus didn’t fly bodily like a rocket man or a space shuttle into heaven, because “flesh and blood” cannot reach heaven, God’s invisible reality.

Paul understands Christ’s resurrection this way:

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised?” and, “With what kind of body do they come?”
36 You foolish one, that which you yourself sow is not made alive unless it dies.
37 That which you sow, you don’t sow the body that will be, but a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind.
38 But God gives it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial differs from that of the terrestrial.
41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown perishable; it is raised imperishable.
43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body.

The resurrection body of Christ is not of “flesh and blood”, for the material body dies like a grain, but something totally new arises of it: a spiritual body. Well, that is hard to understand. Maybe we can put it different: The human dies and gets a body, which is “knitted of eternity” and which is imperishable.

God does not simply bring Jesus back to life, how it is described in the story when Jesus raises Lazarus (Joh 11:1-44), but God the creator creates Christ anew.

Pooh, that’s a bit thick! And not only hard to understand for those who never got in touch with the bible, but also for full-grown Christians, who imbibed the bible from their infancy.

So what is the message, what is it all about at “Ascension Day”? Christ, born from God’s heart as a human by “flesh and blood” goes back to where his origin is. That is what we celebrate at “Ascension Day”. How is that possible? God loves Christ, his son, out of death, back into heaven, God’s eternal reality.

Jesus fulfilled his mission on this earth. He lived and loved God before the faces and in the hearts of humans. The difference between God and the humans cannot be abrogated by any sacrifices. But God himself makes the first step and reconciles the humans with himself by not caring about status or omnipotence, but out of love to us he becomes powerless. The to the cross nailed hands, the pierced feet of Christ, aren’t they his hands and feet too, which are bleeding there on the cross? God overcomes his powerlessness on the cross with his love. That I can’t understand. Not yet…

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