Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fr Phil: A Risen and Ascended King - The Legacy of the 10 Days in the Upper Room

Ascension Sunday
May 28, 2017
Fr. Phil Eberhart


For those of you who don't know, we are in the course of the 10DaysTogether - the time when the disciples were "waiting" in the Upper Room for something called "the promise of the Father."  Jesus was more specific in his instructions in Acts 1:8

Turn with me to your Acts reading this morning.

Notice that the disciples, even after the resurrection and his 40 days of being with them in bodily form and teaching them about the Kingdom of God... ( I would have though that that might sink in, but NO!)
... they continue to ask for and expect Jesus to FINALLY set up the earthy Kingdom that they have been hoping for, arguing about, jockeying for position in, and generally being a pain about since day 1 in Galilee. 

"Are you NOW going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" they asked!!  Are you NOW?  NOW?

Jesus sets them pretty straight with the next words:  

"It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." 

So now they know:
1.  This is not the full restoration of the earthy kingdom... yet.

2.   This is about power  (dunamis) (Dynamo) (Dynamite!)

3.   This is for Witness  (Martureo = Martyrdom)

I doubt if that was all in their minds, but it in what Jesus said.  And I imagine it began to sink in during the 10 Days, and certainly it became reality on the Day of Pentecost.

So here we are at Sunday after Jesus Ascension on Thursday...  Where are we in the story exactly.

Well, last Thursday evening I put some pieces in place if you'll indulge a bit of a retelling:

===

I imagine there were still some butterfly's in their stomachs.  The account of the Ascension in Matthew, says that some "doubted."  AS Jesus was being taken to heaven, some "doubted!"  I don't know about you, but that gives me hope!

And there is the download that the guys on the road to Emmaus got, right?  It says that "beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." 

I think that the disciples, when the dust settled a bit for them, probably did three things while they were together in the Upper Room.

1.  Study of the Scriptures along the lines I've just suggested, going over the Word of God in detail and discussing the meanings for their lives and the days ahead.

2.  They were in close quarters with one another, for 10 Days, in the same room, or house, and not just the 12 - likely the 120!!  The bible calls this KOINONIA. Shared life, closely shared... uncomfortably closely shared!!  Just this fact likely led to the next:

3.  Prayer - just prayer.  Simple, powerful.  Lord, help!  What are we doing here?  Where have you gone, really?    
       
     They were still pretty clueless, even with the download.  And they were waiting for the "promise of the Father" whatever that was.  The Power of the Holy Spirit (whatever that was) for Witness even unto death (did they really get that?).

Jesus made those cryptic references all the time!  Some they kind of understood but most were just over their heads.   Zooooooooom!

They were just there out of obedience, and because they probably were still scared of the Romans and the Jews. We really have no record of that time, except for the fact that they cast lots to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot.  That's pretty much it!

Oh and one thing further...

Acts 2:1 says they were "all together in one place and in one accord."   So those three things that they probably did, began to weld them together:  Study of the Word -  living in koinonia community for 10 days -  prayer.  

(On Thursday night someone pointed out to me that a welded joint is stronger than the original surrounding metal!!)

I've always said that if the church could get together in this way for 10 Days ever again, we might have something like another PENTECOST!  Don't you wonder? 

I believe that God reeeeeeeeeeaaallly wants to do this - the Pentecost thing, pouring His Spirit out on and in our midst.  Now we are 2000+ years past the birthday of the Church at Shavuot 1!  But we could sure stand a re-birth day!  Couldn't we?  Would you be in for that?

Come along on a few of the remaining nights of the 10DaysTogether - you will be more ready for next Sunday than you think!!

================

OK, back to this morning's texts.

Turn to 1 Peter 4

Peter was in the room for the 10 Days there.  He talks about their time with Jesus in his letters.  He tells, along with John, what it was like to be with Jesus during these times, and the words of the Early Church, I believe, were forged in the days together in the upper room after Jesus' ascension.  No not all of them, but the Big Rocks were put in the Jar there.

The big rocks were Acts 2: 42
>  THE APOSTLES TEACHING (WORD OF GOD)
>  THE KOINONIA FELLOWSHIP
         What they experienced during the three years
         with Jesus and close together for the 10Days
         with the whole 120 in that upper room
>   THE BREAKING OF BREAD
          Both Eucharist and Shared meals together
         (in the temple and from house to house)
>   THE PRAYERS

These were and still are the four cornerstones of the building that we are being built into by the Spirit of God!

Look at 1 Peter with me...

v 12-13
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

12 is really the set up for 13...
 
a.  "to the degree that you share"  KOINONIA
          Paul said exactly the same thing in Phil 3:
[Phl 3:10 NASB] 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;

b.   "keep on rejoicing!"
           Here is the Key to keeping on!  This rejoicing even in the midst of - even because of the privilege accorded one to suffer with Jesus for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  Rejoicing here is the "exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think" kind!  What the wise men and shepherd felt at the appearance of the star and the angelic hosts!  What the disciples felt at the appearance of Jesus in the Upper Room just weeks before!  That kind of rejoicing is what is in view here.

and then c:  the SO THAT ...  here we go.
          "at the REVELATION (apocalypse) of his GLORY you may REJOICE WITH EXCEEDING GREAT JOY!

[1Pe 1:6-8 NASB] 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Peter repeats himself doesn't he?  In chapter 1 and in chapter 4.  Spaced repetition is a good thing!!

Jesus talked about these things in the Beatitudes.  Jesus talked about taking up YOUR cross!  It's not your illnesses, or you relatives that are your cross!  It is the suffering we take up for the sake of the Kingdom and the witness to Jesus in our world!

And finally turn to our gospel...

John 17 - the REAL Lord's Prayer!  The prayer that He continues to pray in his position as KING at the Right hand of God and as our chief intercessor:

"Lord that they may be one, as you and I are one!"

The ultimate testimony of Jesus isn't our suffering for Jesus it is our unity "IN HIM" with other brothers and sisters from around the World!!

This week in a discernment meeting at Wellspring I had the opportunity to tell what Anglicanism is;  not about our troubles and challenges, but about who we are and who we are connected to in Jesus.  The wonder of a worldwide communion - yesterday I was texting on my phone across the world with friends in Rwanda and Israel.  It was Yakov's birthday yesterday and I was part of the celebration!  We met a young man in Ngarama at our hotel named Peter - I spend a few minutes catching up with him, and have spent time talking with Rev. Pius and with one of our guides Olivier, and I'm even connected now with our driver, Charles!!  

The Body of Christ across the world is joined in JESUS, and the whole world is waiting the manifestation of the Children of God - the planet is waiting on "tiptoe" Paul says;  all of creation in on tippy toe!!!  Waiting for the manifested revelation - the apocalypse - of the Body of Christ as His Bride, at His coming - and then!!!  Whoa, Nellie!!!

The party is on!!

How did Peter put it:

though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

Just wait till you see Him!  The party will be on! The trumpet, the white horse,  the angel hosts and host of those who have gone before with him,  

Are you with me?

Just two final words... from Peter:

[1Pe 1:13, 22 NASB] 13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ... 

22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

Let us pray:

God of Grace and God of Glory,

Fix in our hearts, O Lord, a joy unspeakable and full of Your glory!  Let us see you risen and ascended to your place at the right hand of God, reigning and interceeding for us, Your Body, Your Bride.  

Let us know your protection as you prayed and your provision as you promised.  Heal and Protect us that our suffering would be the kind that is "according to the will of God" - the kind in which we find a true unity with YOU, a koinonia in your sufferings, for the sake of the Kingdom of God coming among us.

And finally, we pray, come quickly Lord Jesus.  Help us to make ready for your return, by going into the world to tell of your love, your power, your light and life, given for the world.  Open our eyes, Lord, to see you and to see your hand, working in and through our lives.   Let your Kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is being done now in Heaven.  

In the mighty name of our King, Jesus Christ, 
King of Glory, King of Peace.

Amen.

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