An Ascension Day sermon by Wendell Wiebe-Powell, Elkhart, Ind.
Texts: Acts 1:6 – 14, Psalm 68: 1– 10 & 32 – 35, I Peter 4: 12 – 14 & 5: 6 – 11, John 17: 1 – 11
“Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” two men in white ask the disciples in Acts 1:11. In his “left behind” sermon, MCCN Member Wendell Wiebe Powell, brings a 21st century lens to this question and the call to be witnesses “to the ends of the earth.”
“The call to be witnesses, “to the ends of the earth” is often assumed to be referring to reaching out globally to save souls. But what if we pause for a moment and extend that proclamation to be witnesses, to the earth itself? That is, to reach out with saving and healing power to the brokenness of the earth? What would that look like?…”
“The very redemption story that is intended to be life-giving ironically is sometimes used in ways that are death producing. When Christians dwell on the heavenly realm while viewing the earth as only for humans to use and then be tossed into some cosmic garbage disposal and what happens to the environment doesn’t ultimately matter, that has a direct effect on how they relate to the world. Some even seem to revel in the destruction of the environment as a “hastening the end of the world for the return of Jesus…”
“If our story from Acts – calling to be witnesses – extends to the earth itself, is it not then, a call to be active in the protection and restoration of the earth, including the changing of belief systems that result in exploiting the earth?……..God’s unfathomably complex, intricate, interwoven, beautiful creation? Is this not a call to change belief systems that give permission to use up and poison creation, belief systems that wherein we feel we are being faithful while we wash our hands and turn a blind eye to policies and structures that are destroying the earth?…”
“So when we are tempted to gaze too long toward heaven and wonder when the kingdom of God will be restored, let us trust that we are in the hands of God who is like a compassionate father and mother to us. Let us continue to open our hearts to the indwelling wisdom and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Let us grow in our witnesses in our particular community but also to the ends of the earth. Let us cry out with the groans and travail of the earth itself and be part of a new birth….. the renewing of all creation.”