[Take out and show a plastic kite.] One of the sayings that we heard a lot growing up was, “It’s easy as flying a kite.” I don’t know where that came from or who said it first but they didn’t live in my neighborhood! There would be days when I’d see the wind blowing in the tree tops, but nothing down on the street level. And no matter how fast you ran, that kite wouldn’t get airborne. On other days, when the wind was strong, it was tough to keep the kite in the air – it seems to have a kind of death wish that would spiral it into the ground or to the nearest tree. And even once the kite is high in the air soaring, farther and farther away, you risk the string breaking and the kite going free.
While flying a kite has never really been easy, it is thrilling, isn’t it? When you are holding that kite up in the air, it’s almost like you are there with it, soaring, flying. You imagination kicks into high gear, and the stresses of the world just seem to vanish. There is a particular joy -for people of all ages- to fly a kite on a windy and sunny spring day. It’s a great feeling, whenever we get to help something soar.
That’s the image I love most from about the feast of the Ascension we celebrate today. Jesus soars ahead of us, so that we too might soar. This feast of Jesus being raised up to heaven is less about what will happen to us after death than it is about how we are empowered to rise in our lives here on earth. Jesus and the Spirit of God which he gives us – inspires us, breathes through us, and connects us to that first wind that swept over the formless wasteland of earth, so that we can be re-created in our own lives, reach our potential, use and offer our gifts – to soar in and for the world as high as our efforts and our gifts and God’s spirit will take us. Isn’t that what we mean when we speak of a God who raises us up? Isn’t that the obvious image of the ascension of Jesus when he tells us that we must follow him? To fulfill our task, we are to use all of the gifts and energy at our disposal to lift ourselves and our world along with us. “You are witnesses of these things.” Jesus tells us. We are meant to soar, and we are meant to help others to soar as well.
That’s why I think flying a kite is such a great image, not just for the Ascension, but for Mother’s Day. After all, while we acknowledge that we are called to go where Jesus went, it is often our moms, or the mother figures in our lives who prepare us for that journey.
Mothers spend a lifetime trying to get their children off the ground. They run breathless with us trying to get us to launch; they watch with sadness as we sometimes spiral and crash. They pick us out of the tree and patch and comfort, adjust and teach, all the while assuring us that someday we will fly. Hopefully and finally, they see us lifted by the wind and soaring in love of God and service of our neighbor. And though it is a bittersweet moment, whether on graduation day or a wedding day or the first child or whenever – that experience of seeing your children soar is the reward of your vocation.
That is why Jesus can be so serene, as we hear in Luke’s account, when he leads them as ‘far as Bethany and is taken up to heaven.’ He knows the joy of seeing the potential for his disciples to soar. So the letting go is okay. The surrender is necessary. The disciples are meant to soar.
So, too, our seniors and those transitioning on from this community – the same image applies – you too, are meant to soar, to take the love you have known and experienced in this community to all the places you will go. To know that you have been commissioned as disciples, and to go from this place with the intent of helping all of our brothers and sisters soar with God’s love.
[Pick up kite again] Here is what I know. Being made out of plastic and wood, this kite would last a long time if I just left it here in front of the altar. But that is not what kites are meant to do. They are meant to soar. So, too, you and I – we are meant to soar…to be witnesses of the love we know at this altar and this cross. In your prayer this week, take a lesson from a kite – and be ready to soar. [Pause] Better than that, take one from our ascended Lord.