Friday, May 18, 2012

Going Home

While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:51).

You do not need to tell military personnel that going home can be a very special, eagerly awaited event. Most still treasure the memory of doing that after basic training. Yet that trip wasn’t as good as going home after a stressful and dangerous deployment. Even better if the words “Mission Accomplished!” and “Well done!” apply. WWII Vets still talk about their trip home, and the victory parades afterwards.

We can only speculate what Jesus felt as the day drew closer when he would be going home. He talked about it more frequently as the time approached. But, first he must complete the mission. First, he must rescue us. After that could come the celebration.

The first victory parade took place early Easter morning. When we say in the Apostles Creed, “he descended into hell” we are referring to his trip down to the confines of the damned. There he proclaimed his victory over sin, death, and the Devil. No cheers of welcome greeted him there. No boos, either. Shame, regret, and defeat, are the standards of hell. Before him every knee bowed in submission. Not only demons were present. The victory lap was lined with all the humans who had died rejecting the Savior God.
40 days later Jesus ascended into heaven. The disciples had no idea of what was going to happen. They were headed down the familiar road to Bethany when suddenly Jesus stopped to give them his blessing. As he was doing this, he began to rise up into the air. The liftoff was without sound or smoke. It was a perfect extraction. Power from heaven drew him up and up until a cloud hid him from human sight.

To make sure the disciples understood, two angels appeared: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
The Holy Spirit gives a glimpse of the homecoming on heaven’s side. St. John writes, “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand… In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (Revelation 5:13)!

Too bad we were not there to see and hear this! But then, it does give us something to look forward to. Jesus tells us this: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2,3).

It doesn’t make any difference where we are right now. It matters little how easy or tough our life is. It makes no difference what troubles or danger lie ahead for us. The day will come when our tour of duty on earth will come to an end. That’s not a day to fear. That’s the day when, following Jesus, we are going home.

Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida

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Hawaii Lutheran Church (WELS)

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Honolulu, HI
Community Lutheran Church holds protestant chapel services in Honolulu, Hawaii near Pearl Harbor, HI. We are next to the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hickam Air Force Base, and Fort Shafter Hawaii. Look for us directly behind the Salt Lake, Hawaii, Target.