by Bob Wickizer

Business as Usual
Rev. Bob Wickizer
John 17:11b-194
June 2000

How many here know what special day of the Christian year we celebrated last Thursday? No, it was not Thanksgiving or Valentine's Day or Memorial Day. Thursday commemorates the ascension of Jesus where Christ was seen for the last time in human form. Our celebration of Easter takes place as a kind of sandwich between the forty days of Lent when we are to examine and confess our sins followed by Easter with its proclamation of forgiveness and new life and then followed by another forty days of "afterglow" joy leading up to Ascension Day.

The idea behind forty days rests upon sound psychological insights in that it takes about forty days to either break an old habit (i.e. the work of Lent) or to begin a new habit (i.e. the forty days after Easter). Whether the addiction involves drugs, alcohol, work, sex, swearing, television, rage or gambling, staying clean and sober from a bad habit for forty days will pretty much take you over the hump of breaking that habit. Of course breaking free from sin or any bad habit demands complete truthfulness and the presence of a loving and supporting community.

So in one sense Ascension Day serves as a pivotal point leaving us with the question whether we will return to business as usual as if Easter never happened or whether we will continue to respond with the joy of our new, changed life. Joy, grief or even terror usually accompanies an event that changes us, but later on when the conversion experience or new life defines us so thoroughly from top to bottom the hallmark of change that everyone notices is always deep joy.

For example my seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, often recruited students with fascinating backgrounds. My class included a cardiac surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic, a college anthropology professor, a Harvard law school graduate and an assortment of other folks ranging from engineers to a former Buddhist tree surgeon. A few ...

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