Happy Himmelfahrt, Beloved!
Yes, read that title out loud and laugh like the school-aged child inside you wants you to.
Himmelfahrt is two things. Secondarily it is the title of the third full album released by the German industrial metal band, Megaherz. I do not suggest you look them up.
But, primarily, Himmelfahrt is German for “Ascension,” the feast day the church honors on the last Thursday of Easter, leaning into the culmination of Eastertide.
In Norwegian it’s the even more fun Himmelfartsdag…but I digress...
You may wonder why Jesus would even leave at all after being resurrected, right? Why didn’t he just stick around, continuing to appear in the bodily form, eating fish on a beach (Jesus invented brunch, after all), and walking through doors to invite people to gaze upon his wounds and believe?
Why didn’t Jesus just stick around? It would have made things much easier…
Well, think on this: when you were learning to walk, did your parents move your feet, left, right, left, right, to get you to do it? No. They held your hand for a while and then, what?
They let go.
And when you fell, did they catch you every time?
Not if they were any good. You have to fall to learn to walk, Beloved. They’d say, “Woopsidaisy!” and help dust you off and then they’d let go again.
Jesus had to exit stage left so that we, you and me, might learn to embody God in this hurting world.
Jesus ascended into heaven not to hang out with God, but so that we’d start hanging on to the promise that, in God, we can do and be what God intends us to be: healers of the nations, hope for the hopeless, friend for the friendless, love for the loveless.
Jesus left so that we might arrive, by God.
And we don’t arrive alone, of course. The Advocate, the Spirit, the Divine Wisdom, the Wild Goose, comes along side us, moves through us, empowers us, and sustains us.
But more on that next week where we celebrate Pentecost.
Until then, I wish you a very happy and healthy Himmelfahrt!