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Tavern Talk #43: The Most Amazing Disappearing Act

Perhaps you have seen those magic tricks where the magician makes something disappear? They have become so extravagant that calling them a “trick” probably doesn’t do them justice. They are spectacles. But, at the end of the day, they are simply tricks. The object or person doesn’t really vanish, we simply don’t see them anymore. They exist (maybe even exactly where they were, in the case of a building, a bus, or an elephant), we simply can’t see where they are. That is true of most disappearances. Thanks, in part, to the law of the conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation from physics or chemistry. [1]

Jesus was no stranger to spectacles. From the miracles he performed, to rising from the dead, his disciples should have become accustomed to being wowed. Jesus often told them what to expect but imagine their surprise. He is raised from the dead and reappears to them – the very thing we celebrated at Easter. But it didn’t end there. He vanished into thin air (or a cloud). Poof!

Before he left, he made a few things clear. First, that he was going to be with God. They, too, should plan to be there and he would help. What’s more, he’d be back again and there would be a judgment day. That’s a lot to absorb, and we’ve not been doing it well since he left!

There has been an extraordinary focus on the second coming and judgment day portion of what Jesus said. As Christians, we believe it, and that’s all well and good. But we often forget the other thing he told his disciples before leaving, “I’ll be with you until the end of the ages.” That gets overshadowed by the second coming. Why? Perhaps because it’s confusing. How can he be gone AND be here? Well, in the same way that we have the triune – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one. Or maybe because it makes our life easier whether we’re seeking to make disciples of others or struggling in our everyday sins. Focusing on some event whose occurrence is uncertain (which has been anticipated for over 2,000 years now) makes it easy to avoid doing the things that we should be doing each day.

It seems that if we spent our energy focusing on Christ’s presence with us – every minute of every day – we really wouldn’t need to worry about the second coming. Jesus is here with us. Now. Watching. Listening. Observing. But his presence should mean so much more! He isn’t present to judge. He is here to love us, encourage us, comfort us, lead us, inspire us, teach us, listen to us, hear us, and share with us. All day. Every day.

Jesus is gone but also here. Both in real and meaningful ways. Wow. Vegas can’t touch that!

[1] Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, though it can change form.

Additional readings:

Mark 16:19

Luke 24:50-51

John 14:3

Matthew 24:30

1 Thessalonians 4:16

Matthew 28:18-20

Songs this week:

“God is Here” by Darlene Zschech

“You’ve Got the Love” by Florence + The Machine


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