Homily

1. Has the heaviness of your old fashioned church got you weighted down? Try us! We are the New and Improved Lite Church of the Valley. Studies have shown we have 24% fewer commitments than other churches. We are the home of the 7.5% tithe. We promise 35-minute worship services, with 7-minute sermons. We have only 6 Commandments -- Your choice! We take the offering every other week, all major credit cards accepted, of course. Yes, the New and Improved Lite Church of the Valley could be just what you are looking for. We are everything you want in a church... and less!

2. A Sunday school teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, "And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?"

One bright little girl replied, "Because people are sleeping."

3. Six Things You Never Hear in Church

1. "Hey! It's my turn to sit in the front pew!"

2. "I was so enthralled, I never even noticed your sermon went 25 minutes overtime."

3. "Forget the denominational minimum salary. Let's pay our pastor so he can live like we do!"

4. "I love it when we sing hymns I've never heard before."

5. "Since we're all here, let's start the service early!"

6. "Pastor, we'd like to send you to this Bible seminar in the Bahamas."

Today is the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Brother, Jesus Christ. He now "sits at the Right Hand of His Father. Our Readings give us two themes to think about. "Wobbly Faith" and "Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father".

"Wobbly Faith" is found in today's Reading from the Gospel according to Mark. The first appearance of the Risen Christ was to Mary Magdalene. When Mary Magdalene told the Apostles and disciples that Jesus was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe her.

When the two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized the Risen Jesus "in the breaking of the bread", they returned to Jerusalem and told this to the Apostles and disciples, they did not believe them.

Jesus then suddenly appeared in the upper room where the Apostles, disciples and the women were gathered. He scolded them for their lack of belief that He would rise on the third day. He offered them the wounds on His side, His hands and His feet for them to see that it was really Jesus risen from the dead.

Jesus then appeared a second time with Thomas being present. Thomas had refused to believe that Jesus had risen. Jesus took up the challenge which Thomas said he needed to believe. He showed Thomas the wound in His side and the wounds in His hands and feet. Thomas finally said "My Lord and My God". Jesus chided Thomas for his failing to believe that He was Jesus risen from the dead. But Jesus continued, saying "Blessed are those who have not seen Me, but in faith believe He had died and risen from the dead.

This leads us to our "Wobbly Faith". The existence of an Eternal Being can be known by reason. But all the rest about God and Jesus, we can only know by "believing in Faith". This leads us to go back and forth between "believing" and "wondering" if all this really happened. Only by "Faith" do we "know" that Jesus is the Son of the Father Who came down to earth as a true man. Rather than worrying about periods when we are in the state of "wondering" about Jesus, we should just be content. The Apostles and disciples doubted, then believed. So we do the same thing. We move back and forth between "believing" and "being skeptical". Rather than worrying about our "Wobbly Faith", we should simply realize that we are very similar to the Apostles and the disciples. And simply be comfortable with our "Wobbly Faith".

The next theme is Jesus "Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father". We know that God the Father has no physical parts. Therefore, He does not have a "Right Hand". And Jesus has a glorified body with His Father, no longer on earth as a Human Being. But we, as human beings, can only think about God in our imperfect way. We use analogies to our human condition. Therefore the phrase, "Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father", is our human way of understanding of what the Ascension of Jesus brought about. Jesus is back with the Father, but with a glorified body which we will someday have. In the meantime we must use analogies to express our thoughts about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He has finished the work of Redemption which the Father sent Him to do on earth.

So what does the phrase "Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father" mean? In the Scriptures, the "right hand" meant a place of honor. We need something to tell us about Jesus after the Ascension. We know that Jesus, as the Son of the Father, is equal to the Father. But we need a human phrase to describe how Jesus, in His glorified body, is now back with the Father and equal to the Father. The best we can do - by analogy : is to say that Jesus is "sitting at the Right Hand of the Father". And for now that is simply the best we can do.

"Wobbly Faith" and "Sitting at the Right Hand of the Father". "Wobbly Faith" tells us that we should be content at times with simply believing, and at other times "wondering". The Apostles and the disciples went this same way. Faith is not a stable thing that we have once and for all. It is a journey with "ups and downs". Whether we are "up or down" we should be content because from the Apostles and disciples up to our time, this is the natural path of Faith.

"Seated at the Right Hand of the Father" are human words to tell us that Jesus has gone back to the Father with a glorified body. Although Jesus is now with the Father, He continues to be our powerful Savior, because : in human words : He is now joined with His Father with the power to continue the "Work of Salvation". The "Work of Salvation" accomplished through His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension.

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