My roadmap.

But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.

Thank you for joining us this Sunday as we testify to the great salvation we have in our Lord and Savior.

Imagine if you will a great roll of writing paper. You take that roll and stretch it throughout your house. You start in the kitchen, run through the living room, dining room, through the halls, up the stairs, into the bedrooms, back down the stairs, back into the kitchen where you finish.

On this great scroll you write out the history of the world, the great and small events in twenty-year generational segments. You get to the modern age, and there is you – your birth and the important moments of your life.

Once finished, you step back and survey it all. Your roadmap. Now you can pick from these moments and see in each of them several things.

In these moments, we find causes for joy and sorrow, reasons for hope and despair. We also see across the great arc of history God’s abiding presence and call to His people, to you and me. We see where we have failed to heed His call to faithfulness. We also recognize the times we joyously returned to Him.

Today we have cause to consider return, the very reason we all join in this place of holiness and prayer, this place of encounter with Jesus and the moment where we repent and welcome Him into the house of our very bodies, hearts, and souls.

Jesus is journeying to Jerusalem to carry out His Father’s will. The last town He comes to is Jericho. You may remember that the man robbed in the story of the Good Samaritan was journeying from Jerusalem to Jericho. It was a well-traveled route, and the one Jesus would take.

Jericho was the place! It was the most perfect of cities. Temperate weather year-round, balsam trees, feathery palms, low slung sycamores, roses. It was a fragrant place. It was wealthy because it stood along this major trade route. Everyone was there. Yet in this very perfect place you’d find tax collectors and robbers.

Among the tax collectors was Zacchaeus, Zacchai, little Zach, a man with a name that means ‘the just, pure, innocent one.’

Imagine, like you, little Zach stretched out a great scroll around his grand home. There he considered his life in the span of history. Among his wealth and comforts derived from being unjust, Zach recalled his parents who named him the just, pure, and innocent one. Struck by the contrast of who he was to be, who God wanted him to be, and what he was, he ran out to meet Jesus. So here we are as well. We know what we are called to be, we know we fall short of God’s call, and our reality. So, we are here to meet Jesus.

We have our timelines and no matter who we are it ends right now. We do not know what the next minute will bring. So like Zach it is imperative that we meet the Lord, turning our lives to Him, changing as we must, for He is the only roadmap to salvation. May we hear Him calling our name – for He knows us. May we welcome Him into the temple of ourselves and live up to who He wants us to be.

Getting us ready.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.”

Last week we studied Jesus’ dialog with his disciples. He was preparing them for the long and difficult road to Jerusalem and the cross. That dialog continues today. Jesus was setting expectations for what would occur. He would go to Jerusalem, be hailed, then persecuted and killed. He would rise. And then, what’s next?

What’s next is Jesus’ description of the next two weeks of celebration. He would Ascend. This Thursday (no, it is not on a Sunday), Jesus would ascend to the Father to take up His throne in heaven. Ten days later the great gift of the Holy Spirit would descend, the Church would be born, and Jesus’ salvation, Jesus the way, truth, and life would be preached to the ends of the earth.

We often think of the world as some random series of occurrences, a daily happenstance of events. Hey, maybe today my ship will come in?

Jesus shows us how untrue that is. He has a plan, a roadmap for us. As faithful Christians we know that the randomness of sin around us is not the way things are meant to be.

Jesus laid it out simply for the disciples even though they didn’t get it at the time. As Jesus says: “On that day you will realize.” Ten days after He ascended, after ten days of prayer, they did realize, and they stepped up and followed the plan. In following the plan, they submitted to the Father and overcame randomness. In following the plan, they brought many to know, love, and serve the Lord. In following the plan, the Holy Spirit’s promptings were brought to fruition in lives one with Jesus.

Our reading from Acts is just one small example of a faithful person following the roadmap. The Deacon Philip preaches to Samaria and people come to the Lord. Centuries before, David sings of the great things God does for His faithful. This is something we need to focus on and sing in our times: Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”

In saying “I will not leave you orphans” Jesus is guaranteeing that He will not leave us alone. There are two ways of looking at this, and both are great. Jesus’ ascension was not the end because He would send the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us. In that He was saying too, I will be on you, pushing you to follow the roadmap. Be on board.