Adapted from a sermon first delivered by Rev. Robert Ball, Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church.
Over the past few years, a new word has appeared in our American vocabulary. The word is "Reality TV." The implication behind this expression is that what we have watched on TV prior to the emergence of "Reality TV" was not real.
I thought about beginning this message by describing some of the strange and awful things that I have seen happening on TV these days. But I was afraid that I might make some of you sick. I would think that it is sufficient to remind us that some have said, "TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION."
I can't help but think that this is true when I watch some of these so called "Reality TV" programs. How many of you have seen The Survivor? How about The Fear Factor? What about American Idol? Many programs have evolved that try to connect people who are searching for a relationship with another person. How many have seen Elimidate? Why is it that human beings are fascinated with the strange, the over the edge, and what some would even call, bizarre?
Could it be that Truth is stranger than fiction?
I asked myself the question, if Jesus were to produce a TV program what kind of show would he produce? I have a feeling that it would fall into the category of "Reality TV." The story from Acts 1:1-11 is one of those Reality TV stories. Jesus has gathered his disciples for the last time. He is telling them the things that he wants them to know before he leaves.
As they are talking, a strange new reality transpires. Luke says, "He was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight." It is interesting that we Christians have always celebrated the Birth of Jesus, his baptism, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter. However, little has been made of his ascension.
Could it be that TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION and that we don't know what to do with this piece of the truth?
Let me ask you, if you were God how would you bring the chapter of Jesus earthly life to conclusion? Would he just not show up for work one day? How about Jesus calling in sick or better yet, how about Jesus and the disciples standing around and finally Jesus says, "Well, its been nice knowing you. I have to run now." Then he just turns and walk away never to be seen again.
Would that be the best ending to the earthly chapter of his story? How would that fit your theology? Your faith and trust in the awesome nature of God?
I don't think it would fly. In fact, I don't think that we would be gathered here today singing praises and waiting to receive the Holy Sacrament of Communion if the Jesus story had ended with Jesus just walking away. In fact, I don't think that those persons who gave up their life for their faith in Christ would have done so if Jesus walked and was never heard from again.
God knew that something spectacular had to happen to bring this part of the story to a close. God wanted to bring this part of the story to an end that they would NEVER FORGET. And ending that would so CRYSTALLIZE their FAITH that it would launch them into the next generation of their spiritual journey. God wanted to leave them with their mouths wide open. It isn't any wonder that as Jesus was lifted up and they were left "GAZING UP INTO HEAVEN." Amazed! Awed!
This is God's version of REALITY TV. TRUTH IS, INDEED, STRANGER THAN FICTION. It is this truth that carries us through the darkest of nights. It is this truth that gives us courage to face the fiercest of foes. It is this truth that reminds us that God's love is unconditional. May we find ourselves held securely in the arms of God from this time forth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rev. Bob Ball is the Senior Pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Toledo, Ohio. Epworth is an exciting, growing, and dynamic church with a heart for missions and a passion to grow in its faith in Christ and service to the world. If you are looking for a church where people are friendly and welcoming, we invite you to try Epworth.
Epworth offers three Sunday morning services: at 8:30 a.m., our blended worship service brings together a traditional worship style and a contemporary flair. Our traditional worship service begins at 9:45 a.m., followed by the contemporary worship service at 11. We are located at the corner of Valleyview and Central Avenue in Toledo, across from Wildwood Metropark.
Epworth United Methodist Church
3077 Valleyview Drive
Toledo, OH 43615-2237
Telephone : 419-531-4236
FAX : 419-531-7487