There is this great series on National Geographic called “The Story of God.” Morgan Freeman hosts it and is doing a great job of surveying religious traditions around the world. He’s citing common beliefs between all the world religions to try to find what or who is at the center of all the world’s practice and confession.
A couple of weeks ago, Morgan Freeman presented an episode of the series on apocalypse. There are commonly held beliefs in world religions about an apocalypse. The monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all hold the belief that there will be an event that will be an end as we know it and the beginning of a new age. Christianity and Islam believe the event will involve God and a battle. Other religions think there will be a beginning of something different whether enlightenment or a new personal state of existence.
Morgan made an interesting statement at the end of that episode. He said apocalypse is from the Greek word meaning disclosure of knowledge, lifting of the veil, or revelation. It is interesting to think of the apocalypse as being the result of a revelation and the beginning of a new age with new knowledge rather than an end of times battle.
When we think of revelation, we think of the book of Revelation and what it reveals to us about a great battle, a beast, horseman, and a lamb. What if revelation is more accurately a new knowledge about Jesus than a battle of good and evil?
The Ascension of Jesus is a revelation. It is a moment when Jesus is revealed as an ascended Lord and His mission is affirmed. The Disciples have one final conversation with Jesus about when He is going to restore the kingdom of Israel. (I think at this point, if I were Jesus, I’d be a little annoyed, that after I’d been teaching them for 3 years and appeared to them risen for 40 days, that they still don’t understand, the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, is not Israel.) Good thing, Jesus has more patience than me. But, the Good Lord tells them, “It isn’t time. God knows when. In the meantime, you’ll receive the Holy Spirit and you will carry on what I started from here to the ends of the earth.”
The Disciples saw Him being taken up into Heaven and they look for new meaning based on their experience. Then, an angel comes and reveals to them something new to help them understand who Jesus is and what just happened. The 2 angels say to the Disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? Jesus has been taken into heaven. He will come back in the same way.” The Disciples now knew that Jesus was definitely not the one who would restore Jerusalem that they had hoped and hoped and hoped and heaped expectation on.
This is a beginning and an end for the Disciples. It is an unveiling, a revelation. It is a pivotal moment in the narrative of the Disciples. They become Apostles. No longer are they Disciples or students of Jesus, the Incarnate God. They are now Apostles of Jesus, ones who were sent by the Ascended Jesus.
Ya know. We call ourselves Disciples. All Christians say they are Disciples, want to be Christ like. But, you never hear Christians say we are Apostles. And, maybe that’s a problem. Maybe we convene in our churches and focus more on Sunday morning gatherings where we are students of the Gospel and less time being Apostles out there. We are as much Disciples as we are Apostles. We are constantly learning but we should be constantly doing.
This Ascended Jesus we call Lord is one who was raised up. He too raises us up above and beyond what we could be or do on our own. The Ascended Lord sends Apostles out to be the hands and feet of Christ and we are raised up to do more than we could do without Him.
That raising up of the Lord begins with our raising up from children to adulthood. Those adults in our lives who raise us up prepare us to be Apostles. There are so many ways that adults raise us up…Sunday school, Children’s church, youth group, Girls on the Run, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, sports, FFA. In all these activities, adults other than their parents invest time in our kids and participate in the raising up of children.
How many children have been raised up from youth group or camp to become ministers?
How many farmers and environmentalists have been raised up from FFA?
How many Sunday school teachers have been raised up from Sunday school and Children’s church?
Girls on the Run is still a young organization. It was started in 1996. The girls influenced by Girls on the Run are still being raised up for their greatness.
Girl Scouts, though, has been around long enough to have made a great impact on the girls they have served. We can see that former Girl Scouts have achieved greatness because of the raising up those girls received through scouting. Famous former Girl Scouts include authors, doctors, Olympians like Dorothy Hamill, comediennes like Lucille Ball, singers like Mariah Carey and Taylor Swift, actresses like Bette Davis, Sandra Dee and Grace Kelly, news casters like Katie Couric and Barbara Walters, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 10 astronauts, and 8 First Ladies including Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Who were Girl Scouts or had daughter or granddaughters who were Girl Scouts?
Boy Scouts have notable alumnae as well. Hank Aaron, Neil Armstrong, Michael Bloomberg, Gerald Ford, Michael Moore, Ozzie Nelson, Donald Rumsfeld, Steven Spielberg, Jimmy Buffett, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Walter Cronkite, Bill Gates, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, JFK, MLK and President Obama.
Who were Boy Scouts?
I wasn’t raised in the church. I didn’t have the Christian formation that came with going to Sunday school or Children’s church. I credit my raising up to Girl Scouts.
Recently, I was looking through some things from my childhood and I came across a basket. I remember weaving baskets in Girl Scouts. I looked at the basket and remembered we wove the baskets in the cafeteria of my grade school. I was examining the basket and found initials on the bottom. They were not mine. My mom had saved someone else’s basket, not mine. I suppose mine wasn’t as good, or something, I don’t know, but Jodi didn’t get her basket, and who knows what happened to mine.
More than basket weaving, I learned how to cook following a recipe. I learned how to be a saleswoman of cookies. I made friends. We learned about survival camping. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to name all the ways I was influenced and raised up by Girl Scouts.
Churches can recognize that while we have the responsibility of providing Christian formation and education many other organizations and institutions play vital roles in raising up kids to achieve their God given potential. Everything we adults do for the children in our community is participating in the raising up of future Apostles. Churches have had a long history with scouting programs because duty to God is fundamental to membership in scouting. First Christian Church, Bethany will continue that historic relationship by hosting a newly forming Girl Scouts troop which will begin meeting this week.
As adults who hold leadership roles in our churches, schools, scouting programs, sports and other extra-curricular activities, we have an important role in raising up kids. Our role is to hold a mirror up to children and help them see the gifts and talents God has given them, to help them see their potential, to recognize their unique createdness. In that raising up, Christ reveals Himself to those children and calls them to fulfill God’s purpose, just as Christ revealed Himself to us and called us to fulfill God’s purpose for which we have been gifted.