If you have ever ascended from Earth, on an airplane or to the top of a tall building, you know what it’s like to gain a new perspective, to get that 10,000 foot view on life. The details fade and a big picture emerges.
This passage in Acts is about the Ascension of Jesus, who is returning to heaven. The Church remembers the Ascension toward the end of the Easter season, which is right about now. You could say the Ascension is about the big picture, trusting God with what is God’s and empowering us to do what is ours. That view from above is helpful, it’s even tempting to want to stay there, but our spiritual task is down here on Earth, to attend to what–and WHO–is around us.
I hope you heard that our namesake, Mary mother of Jesus, was present in our text today. The writer of Acts is also the writer of Luke, the Gospel that most lifts up women as disciples and prophets and leaders. Luke has a special love for Mary, and I think mentioning her here is highlighting her example of lifelong commitment to difficult spiritual perspective. It’s the last we hear of her in the New Testament, 30 some odd years after the birth of Jesus. Talk about someone who has survived it all from family feuds to her son’s betrayal, trials, execution…and the heartbreak did not break her, she stayed in close community with God and others. Over the course of her life, she taught her children how to look around and care for those in need, how to intentionally seek out those who are marginalized; remember, this is woman who said the mighty would fall and the hungry would be lifted up; talk about a revolutionary perspective! And here she is now, one who is sent out into the world to continue doing what she taught him. No doubt that in the midst of details gone wrong, she is someone who had to remind herself of the big picture again and again and it fed her soul and kept her going.
St. Mary’s, It’s been a year…and you have managed to bring some heaven into our community. We have collectively maintained perspective that the work we do here is no less than to bring reality of light and life. Our children need an example of an environment filled with mercy. Our parents should have a place they trust to be peaceful and loving. You deserve a workspace, a home, and a city that is safe. How does this happen? By looking around, by staying bound together in love and commitment, by refusing to let values other than light and life into our community.
Summer break–or for some of us, summer hours– is a good time to allow yourself some perspective. With a little time and distance you can be gentle about the details of the year that need to be let go of and honor those things that have changed you for good. I want you to rest and be renewed and refreshed. I believe that no matter where each of us ends up next year, back here or retired or in a new position elsewhere, we have an ongoing part to play in the Arc of Love that spreads across all time and all people. That is the spiritual perspective I hold as we release this school year and embrace what is to come. In the words of Charlie Mackesy author of our book The Boy, the Mole, The Fox, and the Horse: “One day you’ll look back and realize how hard it was and just how well you did.
May every blessing be upon each of you and yours until we meet again.