Jesus rose from the dead and then what? He didn’t move back to Jerusalem, rent a condo and return to carpentry and preaching. He departed yet again. The gospel writers say that he didn’t just leave, but he ascended to heaven. Luke puts it this way:

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

And John’s gospel says that the Risen Christ didn’t just depart, rather he showed up and bequeathed to his friends the power of God’s spirit:

…he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

So for 2000 years, we humans have been fumbling around trying to embody the joy of his risen presence, seeking to let the Spirit flow through us. It isn’t always easy or clear cut and we’ve made plenty of mistakes. But the church is still Christ’s body.

I think this is why I am so excited about the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony coming up a week from Sunday, on April 28. It’s so much more than a successful fundraising campaign, building renovation and mission project. In my mind, it’s your way of expressing that you have “received the Holy Spirit” Jesus breathed on you and that with great joy you gather in God’s temple.

As we tour the building, share chocolate-covered strawberries, eat ice cream bars, and honor those construction workers who made this all happen, I’m going to be giddily saying a prayer of gratitude for the sacred privilege of watching God breathe on you. The HVAC is awesome, the 2000 new plants are gorgeous, the children’s wing is secured, the sound system is state of the art, the welcome center is inviting and the social spaces are more hospitable. But what I celebrate goes beyond the tangible.

We set out 5 years ago with these goals:
– to share the life changing love of God with the next generation
– to create a spiritual home where lives intersect and grace is present
– and to empower all to become God’s good news.

Congratulations church. The Spirit still rises up in you!