“Once in heaven
I will no longer be in the world,
but my friends remain in the world.
I have been your word on earth;
now I give them your word
and the world will not welcome your word
in them any more than it did in me.”
(John 17:11-14, adapted)
On earth as in heaven, God’s word is authoritative and transformative.
On earth as in heaven, God’s testimony is life-giving and praise-bringing.
On earth as in heaven, God’s majesty lifts us up and deepens our roots.
Friends and colleagues, whether you’re preaching the Ascension Day texts or the Seventh Sunday of Eastertide texts of the Revised Common Lectionary for this coming Sunday, the Gospel is the same on earth as it is in heaven:
God goes up with a shout
even as God’s people root
themselves by the stream.
(Psalm 47/Ascension and Psalm 1/Seventh Sunday)
God’s life fills all in all
on earth as in heaven, and
God’s testimony fills hearts
on earth as in heaven.
(Ephesians 1/Ascension and 1 John 5/Seventh Sunday)
Our witness is on earth
while our fulfillment is in heaven;
our belonging is in heaven
while our sending is on earth.
(Luke 24/Ascension and John 17/Seventh Sunday)
Which texts are you preparing to preach this Sunday, RevGals & Pals? Is your faith community stuck with its neck straining to look up for Jesus in heaven (Acts 1:11), or scrambling with anxiety to experience the confidence of Jesus’ protection on earth (John 17:12)? Do you find your own spirit longing to soar through the clouds or to sink into the riverbank? Is this the time of year when your church raises up new leaders like Justus and Matthias? Is it time for a hymn-sing in the spirit of Psalm 47:1, before Pentecost arrives and all of the triumphant Easter hymns are tucked away for another year?
Share your brainstorms, your sermonizing notes, your questions, and your encouragement with one another as we prep toward Sunday!
Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, blogger, and soccer mom. Her upcoming book, Denial Is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith) with co-author Martha Spong, reflects on love gone wrong, bathroom evangelism, and other questionable stories of faith.
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