Yesterday we celebrated Ascension Sunday. What did Jesus mean when he said BRB, Be Right Back?
I began by having the congregation read the Apostles Creed out of the hymnal. “He descended into hell. He ascended into heaven.” Familiar words which reinforce our “three-story” notion of the cosmos: earth sandwiched between heaven and hell.
For the Time with Children, Lucy created a metaphor for the children. The Ascension is like a trip to the shopping mall — when Mom goes on ahead to find a place to have lunch and takes the escalator up to the food court and disappears from sight.Â One of the kids immediately mentioned that escalators go down, too.
During the sermon I quoted this great paragraph from NT Wright:
When the Bible speaks of heaven and earth it is not talking about two localities related to each other within the same space-time continuum or about a nonphysical world contrasted with a physical one but about two different kinds of what we call space, two different kinds of what we call matters, and also possibly two different kinds of what we call time.
When I suggested to the congregation that Ascension Sunday was all about breaking the space-time continuum, I could see everyone shift in their seats. But I’m still thinking about Jesus saying BRB and then not showing up. At least, not in the expected way. Was the arrival of the Spirit at Pentecost a fulfillment of that promise?
I’m thinking of all this in a new way, it is still a bit mushy in my brain (meaning that I am either a pliable, creative thinker or a bit daft). No matter how you work it out, I’m quite sure that this part of theology is all wrapped up in cosmology. We don’t pay enough attention to these things, because they are like the air we breathe, but really, isn’t our cosmology changing as we enter a new millenium? Count how much of our current entertainment plays with time and space. Perhaps space and time are not as static as we think they are.
Should it surprise us that Jesus was waaaay ahead of his time, cosmologically-speaking?
As a fun footnote, yesterday I continued bending space and time in my brain by going to see Star Trek. Live long and prosper!