NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR JUNE 1, 2014
This Sunday on the liturgical calendar is called “Ascension Sunday”, even though the Day of the Ascension of Jesus occurred on a Thursday, ten days prior to Pentecost.
The Ascension of Jesus is the Christian teaching found in the New Testament. That the Resurrected Jesus was taken up to Heaven in his resurrected body, in the presence of eleven of His apostles 40 days after the resurrection. As we commemorate that event nearly two thousand years later in 2014, perhaps we, followers of Christ, need an Ascension in our spiritual lives today, in which we ascend in our faith walk beyond simply talking about the love of Jesus, to following more closely to the compassion of Christ.
Let’s face it. It is very popular to talk about love. Nobody sends preachers nasty e-mails when we talk about love. We all agree we should love one another, but I’d like to share a working distinction between love and compassion that I came across from one of my mentors and has helped me in our walk with Christ. “We love the people we know and about whom we care. Compassion, though, is directed toward people we don’t know. We love people we get something from, people who love us back, care for us, support us and encourage us. However compassion is directed toward people who are in need, but who can do nothing for us.” Jesus said it this way in Matthew 5:46, “If you love only those who love you how are you any different? Even unbelievers do that.” (Matthew 5:46)
With that working definition of compassion, it seems that compassion is what really distinguishes us as disciples of Jesus. So with that in mind, how can we ascend beyond love to compassion this year? There are many ways, however one way we can begin this Sunday coincides with June 1st being the beginning of Pride Month here in Central AL. Beginning with the “Ecumenical Prayer Service” May 31, to “PrideFest”, Sunday June 8th, there will be many opportunities for us as individuals and as a family of faith to ascend past love to compassion toward those in our community. This will happened as we remember that we are called beyond the love we have for those we know in our community. It encompasses the compassion we direct toward people who are in need, but who can do nothing for us. Therefore our ministry and our mission as followers of Christ during this time of Pride celebrations is to have compassion for everyone. We do that by following the responsibilities of our faith outlined in our vision statement like this: “To be an inclusive community of faith – Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness + Sharing Joy.”
Join us this Sunday at Covenant and learn how to ascend spiritually in our faith walk as we also commemorate the physical “Ascension of Jesus” on the start of “Pride Month.” I will be sharing how we can do that in a sermon titled “Third-Class Responsibilities,” based on the scripture text of Acts 1:1-11 and John 17:1, 6-11.