Today we celebrate the feast of the Ascension & next Sunday is called the Ascension Sunday. According to the Christian Conference of Asia, Ascension Sunday is also called Asia Sunday. When Jesus lived in this world as a human being he belonged to a particular culture. By being in a particular culture he blessed all the cultures of the world. With his Ascension after resurrection, he confirmed that he is not confined to a particular culture although he lived in a particular culture as a human being.
Jesus was born in the Middle East which is actually a part of the Asian continent. First of all, Christianity existed in this region. Then gradually Christian faith migrated to Western countries. During the height of the geographical colonial era from the 15th to 20th century again Western brand of Christianity was introduced to many Asian countries such as Sri Lanka.
Today in Asia mainly we have the continuation of Western Christianity in the form of various denominations. In these countries, where the majority of the people are not Christians generally think that Christians are a product of the past colonial era. As we commemorate the Ascension of our Lord along with Asia Sunday it is our responsibility to find ways and means to make Jesus and his gospel meaningful to the inhabitants of Asia.
We know that Jesus was a son of a carpenter and never part of a colonial regime. In fact, he was critical of the ways in which the colonial rule of Romans oppressed people. But it is a fact that the Christian gospel came to Sri Lanka with the protection of the colonial regimes of the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British.
Therefore as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to redeem His gospel from the influence of these colonial memories. Do you remember that Jesus said if he is not ascended his disciples will not receive the gift from above? This gift is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is able to redeem us from the unpleasant memories of the colonial era to make his Gospel meaningful to Asia.
To do this as Jesus did we should be able to have roots in our culture. Once a famous Methodist minister called Revd. Dr. D. T. Niles said that the Christian Church in Sri Lanka is like a potted plant. Therefore we should take steps to break this pot and plant it in our soil in order to have roots in our context.
How can we do this? To do this we should understand the heat beet of our people. It is our responsibility as Christians to get involved in the common activities of our society. We should do these things not just as social services but as exercises of our spirituality.
If we are involved in this manner we we’ll be able to proclaim our Gospel in a very effective manner. Same Dr. D.T. Niles of the Methodist Church said that evangelism is something like one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. The proclamation of our Gospel in Asia should be a natural process like one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.
Therefore let us ask ascended Jesus to grant the power of the Holy Spirit to give us his grace to become effective and meaningful members of his Gospel in Asia.