Tag Archives: luke

Gospel Reflection for May 13, 2018, Ascension

7 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11;Ephesians 1.17-23; Mark 16.15-20

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”  – John 16.15

“Why do you stand looking into the heaven?”  – Acts 1.11

Up is where God is in the ancient world. Up still represents the top rung. The ladder of success goes up. The view of Earth from space, however, has forced us to revise our images of the heavens as God’s home and throne.

When I visited the site of Jesus’ ascension in Israel, the guide pointed out a rock with two side-by-side swirls that looked a little like footprints. When I saw the rock, I remembered reading about it as a child and accepting as real that Jesus would leave his footprints in a rock when he returned to God.  Did I think Jesus blasted off with foot rockets to leave such molten footprints? Until the early teen years,all of us have only concrete brain operations. We can only take stories literally as I did.

The gospel writer Luke draws on how people saw the world in Jesus’ time. In ancient Mesopotamia people imagined God lived in the heavens, commanding storms and hosts of heavenly beings, a divine army. Luke pictures Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, returning to reign with God. In his final words Jesus calls his disciples to await the Spirit and then become his witnesses to the ends of the earth. As the account in the Acts of the Apostles ends, two men ask, “Why do you stand looking into the heavens?” Their question brings us back to the Earth we know where Jesus calls us to be his witnesses.  Get busy.

What are you looking to heaven for that you can be doing here on Earth?

Gospel Reflection for May 17, 2015, Ascension

11 May

Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11; Ephesians 1.17-23; Mark 16.15-20

“Go to the whole world and preach the gospel.”

(Mark 16.15)

The ascension is the hinge event between Jesus’ resurrection and his sending of the Spirit. Luke’s gospel ends with Jesus’ ascension and the Acts of the Apostles begins with the same scene. Luke draws on ancient imagery of God’s heavenly court to picture Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, returning to reign with God, to take his place at God’s right hand. As God’s incarnate Son, human and divine, Jesus is the firstborn of a new creation — the promise of who we are to become.

What are you looking to heaven for that you should be doing on Earth?

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Family Vacation, Spiritual Journey? Part 1

18 Jul

Family Vacation, Spiritual Journey? Part 1.

Coming weekly beginning in August, the work of Claire Bischoff who currently writes atSpirit4Teens.com.

In Luke 9:51-62, we are told that Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem. His journey, which is narrated over the next ten chapters in Luke, will take him first to his death on the cross but then to new life in his resurrection. Jesus’ disciples travel with him, a journey that shapes their understanding not only of who Jesus is but also of who they are as children of God. This is truly a life changing journey, not just for them but for all those throughout the centuries who will call themselves Christian. In this journey, the love of God is revealed, a love over which even death has no power.

I read this Sunday’s gospel curled up in the front seat of our minivan, trying to find the position that best optimized a combination of the cool breeze from the AC and the warm sun’s rays as they poured through the windshield. We were on the road for our own journey to the Wisconsin Dells, home of America’s biggest water parks. Certainly, this family vacation pales in comparison to the earth shattering implications of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. But as I anxiously checked passing license plates, hoping to see the elusive Alaska, and read billboards for 24-hour Perkins, I was flooded with memories of the road trips my family took when I was growing up. Or rather, the one road trip that we took each year at Thanksgiving.

Each year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my four siblings and I clamored into the family minivan, having devised an elaborate plan of who got to sit where and for how long—because no one wanted to be stuck in the middle of the back bench seat for the five and a half hours it would take us to get from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Rockford, Illinois, to visit my mom’s sister’s family. By the time we reached the freeway, I had pinned some friendship bracelet string to my pants leg so I could keep my fingers busy while humming along to either Buddy Holly or the Beatles, the only music we could all agree on for any stretch of time. We always stopped for lunch at the “cool,” cow-themed McDonald’s in Tomah, Wisconsin. After checking in to our hotel, we would go to spend time at my aunt and uncle’s house, pitching in with Thanksgiving food preparation and playing board games and the old Atari with my three cousins. Then it was off to the Godfather’s pizza buffet for dinner, so my aunt would not have to cook.

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Thursday morning my uncle would be up early to hunt at his deer stand, but he always left a pile of dollar bills on his kitchen table, money that funded our favorite part of Thanksgiving. Each remaining kid and adult got one dollar bill, to be spent on a Thanksgiving-morning trip to Walgreen’s. When he returned from hunting, my uncle would find all of our purchases laid out on the kitchen table and he would judge which item was the best deal for a dollar. The only prize in this context was pride, but much thought went in to our shopping over the years, as we tried to predict which bauble would most capture my uncle’s attention. Would he like the practical hand- warmers or the amusing keychain? Would he be hungry and thus swayed by beef jerky or a bag of jelly beans?

Over the years, the rest of the weekend also fell into a predictable pattern: Thanksgiving dinner, followed by pie and football in the backyard; a Friday morning shopping trip, including a stop at Aunt Mary’s Cafe for delicious cookies and muffins and a chance to sit on Santa’s lap; Saturday morning donuts from the mom and pop shop the next town over before hitting the road to return home. Over the years, this trip became part of our family story. It was part of what made us who we were. To be in our family meant that you participated in this ritual, and we never tired of enacting it or retelling humorous incidents from years past.

Just as the journey to Jerusalem formed Jesus’ disciples and enabled Jesus to enact his saving mission, our more mundane family vacations form us, too. They tell us something about who we are, both as individuals and as members of our families. I do not think it is too much of a stretch to say that family vacations can be part of our spiritual journeys, since it is through them that we live and strengthen the bonds of love in our families, love that is reflective of God’s love for us. And just as our birth families enact identity-constituting rituals on vacation or over the holidays, our Christian family comes together week after week to participate in the ritual of Eucharist, never tiring of enacting this celebration of God’s love for us.

What rituals or journeys have are part of your family story? What do these rituals or journeys tell you about who your family is and who you are?

Have you been on other trips or journeys that have changed you?

Gospel Reflection for January 1, Mary Mother of God

27 Dec

Mary pondered all these words in her heart.  Luke 2.19

For insight into Mary, the Mother of God on her feast day, Sunday’s gospel offers only the fact she has given birth and the single sentence above.  That sentence turns on the single word pondered.  This word suggests her character in the narrative.  Mary ponders all she has heard from the shepherds and surely how she wound up in a stable giving birth.  For Mary to ponder is to interpret the events that her life is throwing at her.  Her faith is seeking understanding.  She is a model for all of us believers.

What do you imagine Mary pondering at 15 when Jesus born?  At 45 when Jesus starts his ministry?

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