5/16/99, Ascension Sunday, Year A

“Power, What Power?”
Luke 24: 44-53

"AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Joe Dumars, who will retire at the end of the NBA postseason, scored 20 points last night as the Detroit Pistons routed the Atlanta Hawks 103-82. It evened their best-of-five first-round series at two games each. Game five is Sunday in Atlanta."

"Sunday in Atlanta." What is the biggest event in town? A ball game; or, a visit from the very God who flung the stars into space? Many will choose the game.

Usually, God does not follow the biggest crowd. Most of the time, those seeking the "Thrill of Victory" through the games people play, miss out on the visit of the Spirit.

Sure, games have their place and all need hobbies and leisure-time activity in their lives, but there comes a time when the only thing that really matters is the visit from the God of Hosts. Sometimes we need a powerful incident in life to focus our priorities.

"BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Following an extensive review overnight, NATO today acknowledged its jets struck military positions in a southern Kosovo village that may have killed ethnic Albanian refugees nearby."

We have been drawn to the many images coming from the war in Yugoslavia. Victims, whether Slavs or Kosovarians are desperate: Haunting faces cry out to cameras.

In today's story of the events surrounding Christ's Ascension back into heaven, we find a people whose emotions had been dragged through the deep dark valleys and then propelled to glorious heights. Most of them had experienced the blessings of following Him in the way, hearing His sermons and witnessing His miracles. And then they watched helplessly as He was tortured and crucified on a rugged Cross. Following, was the emotional heights of the resurrection. He was actually, physically alive from the dead! And what a joy to sit and learn from Him as he, "...opened their minds to understand the scriptures." (v.45, NRSV). All their confusion was cleared up. The puzzle was solved for them. They must have wanted to feed upon His wisdom forever. But, then He was gone again. "While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven." (v. 51). How much of a roller coaster ride can our emotions withstand? Sometimes life seems to just fall apart.

"BRAZIL, Ind. (AP) -- Police have arrested a 13-year-old boy who allegedly stalked a classmate's family and planted seven pipe bombs in her parents' cars. One of the bombs exploded while the mother was driving, police said."

But something else happened to the first Apostles and Disciples who had been on that "Scream Machine" wild ride with Jesus--- He gave them the promise that if they would wait there in Jerusalem, and stay together as a group, they would soon be "...clothed with power from on high." (v. 49).

By then these believers, whose minds had been opened by God, knew what kind of power to expect; but, sometimes folks today still wonder, and we ask, Power, What Power?

"NEW YORK (May 14) -- Ralston Purina Co.'s Energizer Bunny was finally stopped in its tracks by a federal judge who ruled that the company's advertising claims against Gillette Co.'s Duracell Ultra batteries were false and misleading."

The power that Jesus still promises us is not battery power, or even jet propulsion; it is far stronger than that. Remember, it is "...power from on high." It is the very power that flung the stars into space--- It is the power of God!

And still, we spend our days chasing after wind, until we stumble over the corpse of the person we could have been. The regret of old age is not so much for the sins of life, but of lost opportunities; not of lost business opportunities, or for dollars we did not make, but for lost times with the family, and the great books we did not read. It's been repeated over and over that no one's last words are, "I wish I had spent more time at the office." Death has a way of sorting things out.

Lets look at how our forefathers in the faith responded to Jesus' command--- "And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God." (v. 52-53). Mark's account adds the information that, "...they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message..." (16: 20).

If your world came crashing in today, what regrets would you have? It could happen.

"ATLANTA (Reuters) - CNN Friday broadcast a video apparently showing the aftermath of a Serb massacre of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo last month which had previously been reported by NATO. Kosovo journalist Liri Loshi, who made the video, told CNN that 127 ethnic Albanians, all of them men, were killed in the massacre in the village of Izbica."

Sure, I am ready to go to heaven at any time, and I have absolutely no doubt that I would. Hopefully, everyone here today shares that assurance. But still I think most of us would have regrets about lost opportunities... times we chased after wind and reaped the whirlwind. Times we went to the NBA final playoff game at the Georgia Dome instead of "worshipping Him continually" in the Sanctuary. Maybe that's what heaven's for... to catch up on our worship of Him, and other lost opportunities. But, lets not wait 'til we all get to heaven. Lets get on with worship, and praise, and doing all the good and righteous deeds we can in this world now. Let's make our home here a foretaste of heaven .

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

5/16/99, Ascension Sunday, Year A