Text: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This text always brings back memories of my practicing Instrument Landing System approaches at the Binghamton NY airport. As a flight instructor, I used to say that given enough bananas, I could teach a monkey to fly an ILS. One needle lined you up with the runway; the other needle kept you on the glide path. If you kept the two needle perfectly crossed, you could safely land with zero visibility.
So, if using the ILS was that simple, why did I practice those approaches so frequently? Finally, it occurred to me. I was doing that to see the sun. In winter, much of upstate New York is covered with lake-effect clouds, a thick blanket of clouds that is close to the ground and a couple of hundred feet thick. Since I could go weeks without seeing the sun (and get really depressed), those practice runs enabled me to blast through the clouds into glorious sunshine and lift my spirits.
The sermon today is a critical look at the doctrine of “the rapture” but our theme is really ecstasy. Sure, our moods go up and down, but how often do we really experience ecstasy? (Please don’t say, “When Paul’s long sermons are finally over.”) 🙂 Because of the craziness of 2020, many churches, ours included, have lost much energy for both ministry and mission. Ministry is what we do for fellow members. Mission is what we do for nonmembers. If we can’t experience ecstasy in the moment, at least we can anticipate it—and soar. Come, Lord Jesus, come!
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