May 28, 2017 – Easter, 7th Sunday of
Letters Home (from a retired pastor to his family, the Church)
Kermit the Frog was known to say “It’s hard being green.” Be that as it may. I think most of us reading these words will agree that “it’s hard being human.” One of the main reasons for this difficulty is that we live our lives aware of our potential; our hearts live somewhere between what is today and what could be tomorrow. Often we end up having to accept a present that falls far short of the “could be” of our hearts. I am certain that I am not the only person who rises in the morning believing I will live up to what my heart tells me is true. I am also certain that I am not the only one who lies down at night recognizing that once again the dream of my best person was not fulfilled today.
There are many places in our lives where this tension plays out. These arenas are our careers, friendships, marriage, and parenting. As a parent, I am mindful of the tension between the role I play in my children’s lives, and the person I know myself to be. I can well remember how my parents seemed larger than life to me as a child. They seemed to know everything. Their skills were unlimited as far as I could tell. They were the authority, the deciders-in-chief, my examples, role models, and who I wanted to grow up to be. I suppose it is only natural for a child to feel this way. After all, at a young age, who else do they have to look to.
I remembered learning that my parents were human, with human frailties, just like me. I did not want to be anything close to a hero to our children. I knew how far heroes can fall. This is why, when our children entered their teen years I took each one aside to talk. I suggested that among all the life tasks ahead of them, one was very important. That was to begin to look at their parents’ lives with a clear eye. It was time to observe the qualities they admired and wanted to incorporate into their own lives. The flip side was also vital. Becoming aware of what they wanted to avoid in their parents’ lives was just as important. My hope was that by being open eyed they would have a chance of making their own mistakes, not ours. They might as well be original.
Life has a way of proving that we are not always the persons we long to be. The children of Adam and Eve may be the only species that is so deeply aware of its own brokenness and potentialities. We can be heroes or fail those we love most in the blink of an eye. If I remember rightly, this is very close to the classic definition of a tragedy. Don’t you wish someone would rewrite the script?
Thursday, May 25th, is the Feast of the Ascension. This Feast occurs 40 days after Easter every year. It is the day on which Christians remember Jesus being taken bodily from this sphere of existence into the heavenly sphere. Tradition tells us this took place on Mt. Olivette as the original disciples looked on. This celebration is only partially about Jesus, and just as much about us.
One of the things that touches me the most about the Ascension is this. In drawing the incarnate Lord Jesus to Himself, God has taken our own flesh and blood to Himself. The Christian faith proclaims that Jesus now stands beside the throne of God. In Jesus, our flesh, bone of our bone, stands beside God in heaven. That human flesh has taken such an exalted place changes everything. Not only has Jesus been exalted to a high position, so has the human family. Because of this the dream of becoming the individual our heart tells us we can be, is now a true possibility.
Poor Kermit. It was always hard being green. But now, in Christ Jesus, it has become a little easier being human.
Seventh Sunday of Easter: The Sunday after Ascension Day.
O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.. (BCP 226)