Message 05 24 20 Ascension and John 17

The other day our outdoor bird cage 

accidentally got left open. 

Rosetta (Yaretzi’s bird) almost got away  

Coco (Natalia’s) was nowhere in sight 

But we could hear him squeaking and squawking 

Up in the oak tree, right next to the house 

Hard to see this green love bird 

in this big oak tree  


I got up on the roof of the house next to the tree 

Finally spot him  

He was all the way up there Almost to the top 

Just chilling 

He could see me, but he wasn’t ready to come down 

I think he liked that I couldn’t get him 

It’s like he was mocking me!  

Even went up a little higher into the tree 


We were worried! 

Took all day  

But eventually he had to come down  

Coco went all over that tree  

But was glad to get back home  


Shelter in the darkness  

Water and food, company  

A little rebellious of a bird I have to say!  

We are fortunate that he made it back safe 


Kinda like those disciples  

Staring up where Jesus had left 

But they can’t stay looking up there forever 

They had to go back to the everyday humdrum  

Back to their lives 

But things could never be the same again… 


They would be in prayer together, in community 

Until they were sent out throughout the known world 

Sharing their stories, 

testifying to what they had experienced with Jesus. 

From 1 Peter:

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. 

Suffering in Christ’s name 

Often, we dismiss suffering in Christ’s name, 

Unless we come from China, or another place 

Where religious freedoms are severely limited 


But I think it is true that if I jumped out and said 

“I am a follower of Jesus Christ” 

People might look at me askance in the street 

Often Christians are seen as ignorant, or misguided 

Of course, 

this is not the same as what early Christians experienced 

Indeed, most of the apostles would according to tradition 

End up giving their lives witnessing to the faith 

A difficult example of righteousness that we remember 

Psalm 68 

But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy. 4 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds — his name is the Lord— be exultant before him. 5 Father of orphans and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. 6 God gives the desolate a home to live in; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land. 

Now, righteousness is seen as morality + charity maybe 

Justice is seen as social justice 

In English, we have two separate words 

But in both Greek and Hebrew (the biblical languages) 

There is just one 

So, what does that mean, is it one or the other? 

Did I give away the answer? 

Yes, it is both!! 


When we extrapolate a monotheistic God 

Leads to a universal savior of the needy, 

of the orphan and widow 

One who gives the desolate a home to live in 

Leads the prisoners to prosperity 


Israel was that group of people in the desert 

Israel is the slaves, 

Israel is the ones who lack food and water 

The lost ones, with no home to live in, the mourners 


God said, 

I am going to try a little experiment with you Israel 

I am fed up with the injustices over here in this land 

So, I am going to promise it to you now 

You must come and live here 

And you must do so with justice and righteousness 

For all the people 

As I have cared for you, you must do the same 


Yet, is it not a fact of life how quickly any human can turn 

Even from being the oppressed to becoming the oppressor? 

It is a sickness really that is within all of us 

How easily and unexpectedly it seems, 

We commit injustice or allow it to happen around us 

Something that has plagued humans since forever 


But, we have been opened to a different reality that exists 

Something that breaks the cycle of evil 

Something that leads to reconciliation and redemption 

Forgiveness and healing 

Not a passive love for others 

Nor an overly aggressive one 

But an assertive love 

7 O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, (Selah) 8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. 9 Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished; 10 your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy. 

God provided for the needy 

For the lost people, formerly slaves in Egypt 


We are not God, obviously! 

Can’t just march through the wilderness 

and pour down rain at our presence 


But we can do something 

If we are all united in a cause 

If we are united in a purpose 

And most of all of course 

With faith in God, it is possible 


Possible but not perfect 

But, does God need our perfection? 

If so, it is going to be a long wait… one day maybe? 

“One Day” by Matisyahu 

Perhaps right now our participation will suffice 


To just be involved somehow 

In bringing righteousness and justice to the world 

With the way we treat our family and friends 

Coworkers and acquaintances 

To how we give of our resources 

And how we stand in solidarity 

with the oppressed of the land. 


In what way will you live with righteousness and justice 

This day, this week, all summer long? 


Life is a mixed bag  

Filled with ups and downs 

(As Coco learned that day he escaped) 

Happiness and sadness 


Following after Christ can bring us our greatest joy 

And also bring suffering 

When we stand up for righteousness AND justice 

When we care for other’s immediate needs 

And their long-term success throughout life 


It can be a glorious thing 

Goodness and love and mercy 

Righteousness and Justice 

These are what make life worth living 


Are you wondering what song I am reminded of  this week!? 

Rick Astley: 

“Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna turn around and forget you” 


God is saying: 

I got you, I got the world 

Let go of all your fear 

I love you, 

You are mine.