The last Chapter of the Gospel of Luke and the First Chapter of Acts are readings that describe the same event, Christ’s Ascension. Both passages are written by the same author (Luke) and both are addressed to the same person (Theophilus). Yet, there are significant differences between the two narratives, to the point where reconciling them (if both are viewed as absolute fact) is difficult to do. The reasons for these differences lie in an existential crisis that Christians were struggling with at that time. In these two readings we see Luke’s thinking on the crisis evolve as he struggles to reconcile his faith with the facts and then portray The Ascension in a way that helps his audience to see their faith and relationship with God in a new light, and so find new hope for their Salvation.
Sermon: “Changing Perspective” Delivered at ARK Community Church, Dalton MA Seventh Sunday of the Easter Season: June 1, 2014.
Our readings this morning both cover the same event, Christ’s Ascension; both are also written by the same author, Luke; and both are addressed to the same person, Theophilus. Yet, there are some significant differences between the two narratives, to the point where reconciling them (if both are viewed as absolute fact) is difficult to do.
Why is this, what are those differences, and why do they matter?
For this particular Children’s Message, I bring a “Megalodon” tooth, which is the tooth of the largest predator that ever lived – a giant shark (possibly the direct ancestor of the modern Great White Shark) that could grow to almost 60 feet in length, and which swam the seas of this world from about 28 million years ago until around 1.5 million years ago.
If you don’t have one, you can easily find photos of them online. You can also buy them on eBay: depending on size and condition, they go from under $10 to several hundred dollars in price. You can also find online photos of reconstructions of the Megalodon’s jaws, which are stunningly huge!
Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11(The Revised Common Lectionary readings for The Ascension, focusing particularly on how these two readings are written by the same author, were both addressed to the same audience, and are about the same event, but differ greatly in their portrayal of the Ascension of Christ.)
We sometimes think of our beliefs as facts; but in reality, facts, and our beliefs about those facts, are not the same thing. Sometimes, looking at the facts in a new way will change our beliefs, and in doing so open up new vistas of revelation and wonder.
For thousands of years, and even up until the time of the Pilgrims here in America, people would find the bones of weird animals eroding out of rocks and cliffs. [Did you know that?]
We know them as “fossils;” but back then, they didn’t know what they were. Since these things were always found embedded in rock, they figured that they were the bones of creatures that grew in rock. Some of these skeletons had wings, and many of them looked lizard-like, and so it was from these that we get our legends about “dragons.”