In our culture it’s Memorial Day Weekend. It’s the weekend when our country honors those who have served in the armed forces. It’s a patriotic weekend that attempts to instill the values of our way of life in America. I still remember as a Boy Scout marching in a parade in my small hometown. We marched all the way out to the edge of town to the cemetery. I remember the shock of seeing the men in something like uniforms shooting their guns. As a boy I wondered why they were wiping tears from their eyes. Now I know it wasn’t the smoke, but the memory of those they had loved and lost. (We do this in the church on All Saints Sunday in November; not with the salute of guns but more by ringing our bell and singing “For All the Saints.)
Memorial weekend is also the start of summer, the weekend to take off your winter coat, put the snow shovels away, take out the suntan lotion, or like many of you at church we are stepping up things at the community garden. I get into this as Memorial weekend has become the weekend before the Annual Conference, (that weeklong, once-a-year meeting in St. Cloud with all the other United Methodist in Minnesota that I attend). For the last 10 years or so, I’ve been riding my bike from Minnetonka to St. Cloud with a couple of fellow pastor bike riding buddies for the start of Annual Conference and then at the end we ride back. For me riding to St. Cloud has become like putting in the dock is for many you.
When this weekend occurs within our church changes with each year, it depends on when Easter occurs. This Sunday, the 6th Sunday after this year’s Easter, is known as Ascension Sunday. On Ascension Sunday, we read the story of Jesus’ final goodbye to the disciples after his resurrection. Jesus ascends into the heavens. He leaves earth, in a body we might recognize...for good.
Like Memorial Day weekend, Ascension Sunday marks the beginning of a new kind of time for Christians. Reading this scripture reminds us of the kind of in-between time we all live in. There are different ways to describe this time. Some of my more conservative friends describe it as the time between the Ascension and Jesus’ second coming. Without getting into that “friendly rivalry” of interpretation, I think it’s more about the how we practice faith in a time in-between the time and in a culture that is different than the one Jesus lived in and practiced... and the time when that culture fully realizes God’s acceptance for all people. How do we not so much do what Jesus did, but how do we trust that God in Christ has empowered us, which is another way of saying that God entrust us, or trust us enough to be the body of Christ for this time, for this world.
I’m going to practice both kinds of time this weekend. And as you are up at the lake putting the dock in, or home putting the garden in (finally), or at church putting yourself in that place and time to be with God… and as you do, I hope you can experience something of the trust that God has in you.