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Famous last words

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Revelation 22
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they who wash their robes … the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of living water. The one who gives this testimony says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

Why celebrate the ascension of Jesus, as we do today? Not because he leaves us, but because his presence now is ubiquitous. Such a big word for everywhere-all-the-time. This is my body, Jesus says. Feed my sheep. You are, and I am, the church, the eucharist, the body of Christ.

Our granddaughter Aly has been four years old for six days. She celebrated her birthday with all her might, at the top of her voice. One of her gifts was a strap for her guitar. In tune or not, she strums and sings and smiles and laughs and we laugh with her. She is enthusiastic. En-theos!

One warm afternoon this week she climbed to the top of her playhouse. There, up in the air, she can see across the back fence to her friend Elly’s house. Elly climbs her swimming slide ladder. Now they can see each other and they talk awhile.

Finally Aly said, “I have to go now.” And Elly said, “OK. I’ll go in the house now.” And Aly said, “Why are you going?”

“Because you said you have to go.”

“No,” Aly said. “I don’t have to go. Let’s talk some more.” Maybe it didn’t make much sense at first. But then something hit me about Aly and me, and all of us. There is such a fine line between solitude and loneliness. All my life I have been pleading with the world, “Please pay attention to me.” We’ve all said it, time after time, since long before we were four years old.

When others turn away from me to their own pursuits, I’m not sure what to do. Should I turn away first so I won’t be hurt? Should I ask them to come back and play some more? Can I lift my eyes to heaven, to the departing body of Jesus, and know how full with him I really am?

Without regular swallows of his nourishment … lacking the sweetly savored living water of Jesus on my tongue, I am apt to fall headlong into paranoia and shame. In his book The Examined Life, Stephen Grosz discovers to his own amazement that “it is less painful, it turns out, to feel betrayed than to feel forgotten.”

At our wedding Don Romack read from a poem, “I am loved, I am loved. I can risk loving you.” Jesus pours himself into me, and I must open the valves and let that love come right on in. Only then can I know with confidence and joy that my love belongs to you, and yours to me, and we are free to be known as deep as deep can be.

You, O Lord, are most high over all the earth, exalted far above all gods. And still, and still, I can come to you and put my hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters, calmed the sea. Jesus you are near as near as near can be. And when I look at you, you are always looking back at me. Nothing matters more. Sweet songs we sing, and jump for joy. Amen, come, Lord Jesus!

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