Father Jonathon Wylie: Hope and the Ascension of Christ

Sermon delivered on Ascension Sunday (transferred), May 29, 2022 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

Father Wylie gets all whiny when we ask for a written manuscript. Nobody’s got time for a whiny priest, especially on Ascension Sunday, so click here to listen to the audio podcast of his sermon.

Lectionary texts: Acts 1.1-11; Psalm 93; Ephesians 1.15-23; St. Luke 24.44-53.

Traditional Memorial Day 2022


Today is the traditional day for Memorial Day, originally called “Decoration Day.” Until 1971 it was always celebrated today. But afterward it has become a movable federal holiday. You can read about its history here, and I hope you will take the time to do so. On a personal note, my grandparents Shaffer were married 105 years ago today in 1917. That it has been 105 years boggles my mind.

Take a moment today to remember again those who have given their lives so that we might enjoy the freedom we have. Take time to remember the current members of our armed forces as well and give thanks that God continues to raise up brave men and women to serve our country in a very dangerous world.

Thank you veterans, past and present, for your service to our country. May God bless you and yours.

Memorial Day 2022: General Orders No. 11, Washington DC, May 5, 1868

From here.

  1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. 


Adjutant General


Read the entire order that started Memorial Day.

A Prayer for Memorial Day 2022

Adapted from here:

Eternal God,
Creator of years, of centuries,
Lord of whatever is beyond time,
Maker of all species and master of all history —
How shall we speak to you
from our smallness and inconsequence?
Except that you have called us to worship you in spirit and in truth;
You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;
You have lifted us up with your loving-kindnesses.
Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling
(though we sometimes feel that low)
and without fear
(though we are often anxious).
We sing with spirit and pray with courage
because you have dignified us;
You have redeemed us from the aimlessness
of things going meaninglessly well.

God, lift the hearts of those
for whom this holiday is not just diversion,
but painful memory and continued deprivation.
Bless those whose dear ones have died
needlessly, wastefully (as it seems)
in accident or misadventure.
We remember with compassion and thanksgiving those who have died
serving this country in times of war.

We all must come to bereavement and separation,
when all the answers we are offered
fail the question death asks of each of us.
But we believe that you will provide for us
as others have been provided with the fulfillment of
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”
because we believe that you have raised Jesus our Lord from the dead
and conquered death itself,
and that you have given us the privilege
of sharing in his risen life as his followers,
both now and for all eternity.
We offer our prayers and thanksgiving
in Jesus our risen Lord’s name. Amen.

Memorial Day 2022: A Short History of Memorial Day

From here.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. Over two dozen cities and towns claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.

Regardless of the exact date or location of its origins, one thing is clear – Memorial Day was borne out of the Civil War and a desire to honor our dead. It was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).

Read it all.

Remembering on Memorial Day 2022

Memorial Day Picture

I am remembering today the men and women who serve and have served our country, and who have given their lives for this nation.

I am thankful for my own grandfathers, John S. Maney and F. Earl Shaffer, who fought in WWI.

I am thankful for my father, John F. Maney, and my uncle, W. Everett Jones, who fought in Europe during WWII.

I am thankful for my father-in-law, Donald E. Traylor, who served in Germany during the Korean War.

I am thankful for my dear friend and brother in Christ, John Falor, who fought in Vietnam as well as my old friends, Tod Tapola, now of blessed memory, and Jim Lytle, who also fought there.

I am thankful for Colonel David Mullins who fought in Iraq.

I am thankful for Matt Collins, the son of my dear friends, Ann and Curt Collins, who served his country as a Marine.

Thank you all, and thank God for continuing to raise up men and women who are willing to serve and sacrifice for our country to keep us free.

Feast of the Ascension 2022: N.T. Wright on the Ascension of Jesus

The idea of the human Jesus now being in heaven, in his thoroughly embodied risen state, comes as a shock to many people, including many Christians. Sometimes this is because many people think that Jesus, having been divine, stopped being divine and became human, and then, having been human for a while, stopped being human and went back to being divine (at least, that’s what many people think Christians are supposed to believe). More often it’s because our culture is so used to the Platonic idea that heaven is, by definition, a place of “spiritual,” nonmaterial reality so that the idea of a solid body being not only present but also thoroughly at home there seems like a category mistake. The ascension invites us to rethink all this; and, after all, why did we suppose we knew what heaven was? Only because our culture has suggested things to us. Part of Christian belief is to find out what’s true about Jesus and let that challenge our culture.

This applies in particular to the idea of Jesus being in charge not only in heaven but also on earth, not only in some ultimate future but also in the present. Many will snort the obvious objection: it certainly doesn’t look as though he’s in charge, or if he is, he’s making a proper mess of it. But that misses the point. The early Christians knew the world was still a mess. But they announced, like messengers going off on behalf of a global company, that a new CEO had taken charge.

What happens when you downplay or ignore the ascension? The answer is that the church expands to fill the vacuum. If Jesus is more or less identical with the church—if, that is, talk about Jesus can be reduced to talk about his presence within his people rather than his standing over against them and addressing them from elsewhere as their Lord, then we have created a high road to the worst kind of triumphalism.

Only when we grasp firmly that the church is not Jesus and Jesus is not the church—when we grasp, in other words, the truth of the ascension, that the one who is indeed present with us by the Spirit is also the Lord who is strangely absent, strangely other, strangely different from us and over against us, the one who tells Mary Magdalene not to cling to him—only then are we rescued from both hollow triumphalism and shallow despair.

Conversely, only when we grasp and celebrate the fact that Jesus has gone on ahead of us into God’s space, God’s new world, and is both already ruling the rebellious present world as its rightful Lord and also interceding for us at the Father’s right hand—when we grasp and celebrate, in other words, what the ascension tells us about Jesus’s continuing human work in the present—are we rescued from a wrong view of world history and equipped for the task of justice in the present. Get the ascension right, and your view of the church, of the sacraments, and of the mother of Jesus can get back into focus.

— N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope.

Feast of the Ascension 2022: A Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus

O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,
but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us
and exalt us to the place where our Savior Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

From The Book of Common Worship

Feast of the Ascension 2022: Dr. John Stott on the Ascension (2)

There is no need to doubt the literal nature of Christ’s ascension, so long as we realize its purpose. It was not necessary as a mode of departure, for ‘going to the Father’ did not involve a journey in space and presumably he could simply have vanished as on previous occasions. The reason he ascended before their eyes was rather to show them that this departure was final.  He had now gone for good, or at least until his coming in glory.  So they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and waited – not for Jesus to make another resurrection appearance, but for the Holy Spirit to come in power, as had been promised.

—Understanding the Bible, 103.

Feast of the Ascension 2022: Dr. John Stott on the Ascension (1)

It is a pity that we call it ‘Ascension Day’, for the Bible speaks more of Christ’s exaltation than of his ascension. This is an interesting avenue to explore. The four great events in the saving career of Jesus are described in the Bible both actively and passively, as deeds done both by Jesus and to Jesus. Thus, we are told with reference to his birth both that he came and that he was sent; with reference to his death both that he gave himself and that he was offered; with reference to his resurrection both that he rose and that he was raised; with reference to his ascension both that he ascended and that he was exalted. If we look more closely, we shall find that in the first two cases, the active phrase is commoner: he came and died, as a deliberate, self-determined choice. But in the last two cases, the passive phrase is more common: he was raised from the tomb and he was exalted to the throne. It was the Father’s act.

—The Exaltation of Jesus (sermon on Phil. 2:9-11)

Feast of the Ascension 2022: Pope Leo the Great on the Ascension of Jesus

With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father. And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high. This faith was increased by the Lord’s ascension and strengthened by the gift of the Spirit.

Bishop Emmanuel Chemengich: Effective Sharing of the Gospel

Sermon delivered on Easter 6C, Sunday, May 22, 2022 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.

Lectionary texts: Acts16.9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21.10, 22-22.5; St. John 14.23-29.


I greet you all in Jesus’ name!

It is a joy to come back to St. Augustine Anglican Church. I congratulate you on acquiring new facility to worship God. And praying for your transition to new Rector, and also for a blessed retirement of Fr. Kevin. 

Thanks for supporting the Diocese of Kitale with scholarship for theological students. God bless you for it!

I will use the story of the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16, the first European to accept Christ, and highlight lessons we learn from it on effective ways to share the gospel of Christ. 

I present this message in 2 parts:

  1. Why Sharing the Gospel is Important?
  2. Three Effective Ways of Sharing the Gospel Sharing

Let me introduce this sermon by sharing the story of Lydia, the first convert to Christian faith in Europe to help give us the context and prepare us for this sermon.

Paul and Silas, and now Luke and Timothy have crossed the Sea from Troas to Neapolis, which marks change of direction from Asia to Europe. The Holy Spirit had forbidden them to preach in Asia (16:6-8). So, they went to Philippi because it was the leading city in the colony of Macedonia. On Sabbath day, they sought a place to pray by the riverside because there was no synagogue in this Gentile city. Here they could baptize those who had accepted Christ and believers went there to pray.

Lydia was a Gentile woman of means, and she was god-fearing having left paganism, but had not heard the Gospel of Christ nor baptized. But after hearing the Gospel, Lydia believed, she was baptized, and started serving God by hosting apostles and the first Christian home in Europe. 

I – Why Sharing the Gospel is Important for Christians? 

  1. It is the only way for God to save the world!

It is the only way and means to save the world from the consequences of sin or evil. The Bible tells us that sin and Devil comes to steal, destroy, and kill (Jn.10:10), and that all who are in sin will be destroyed (Jer.6:21 & Rom.6:23). 

After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost in Acts 2, the disciples of Jesus went to different directions as eyewitnesses in preaching the gospel of Christ as mandated by Him Matt.28:16-20.

Today, this remains the urgent mission for the Christians and the church. To be a Christian and follower of Jesus we affirm the fact that each one of us is called to share what we have received and experienced from Jesus (Luke 24:39, Luke 24:42-43, Acts 1:4, Mt 28:9, John 21:9) and become the basis for the preaching. Disciples could not keep it to themselves!

  • It demonstrates God’s love to the World!

Sharing the gospel displays God’s nature of love and mercy. John 3:16 shows how God in His love send Jesus to die on the cross to save us from perishing from sin. 

Several Parables of Jesus reveal God as a ‘Searching Father’, looking for the lost, actively seeking them, and rejoicingwhen they are found.  

An important part of Character of God is His mercy to the undeserving – not only those who we stumble upon, but an active mission and outreach programme of seeking out the hurting and oppressed, the blind and the imprisoned (Luke 4:18-19). That is the message of the cross, the message of active love! 

The disciples must become like the Master, who was driven by love and passion for the lost: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). We share the gospel because it reveals God’s nature of love to restore the lost humanity from perishing. 

  • It is the reason You and I are Christians today!

It is because of sharing the gospel that you and I are Christians today and live with the hope of life now and into eternity. By Paul sharing the gospel, Lydia got converted which opened the doors for Christianity of Europe. And when Europe shared the gospel, North America and Africa got salvation. And faithful believers, generation after generation, have handed over the gospel until you here at St. Augustine Church are worshipping Jesus today. 

We would not be Christians if it were not for God to reach out to me and you by sending Jesus to die on the Cross, instead, we would be lost and perished in sin!

All these 3 reasons are critical for a young, newly planted congregation like St. Augustine, and ACNA at large. Your church will grow like the Early Church by intentional sharing of the gospel so others can come join you. Sharing the gospel is not an option, but a mandatory obligation and strategy that the Holy Spirit uses to grow Christ’s church! 

II – 3 Effective Ways of Sharing the Gospel

Let us look at 3 ways for effective sharing of the Gospel we learn from the conversion of Lydia:

  1. Involve God at Every Stage of Sharing the Gospel!

Like all God’s mission work, God is the alpha and the omega, He begins it and completes the work of gospel sharing. God begins by sending Paul and also preparing Lydia’s heart. He was the One who directed Paul and his team to Philippi from Asia to Europe. And it is God who opens the heart of Lydia to accept salvation.

 We see how God convicts and prepares the listener in John 1:12-13, Rom.9:16 and Phil.2:13.

To succeed in gospel sharing, we must be prayerful to invite God to start and end well the sharing of the gospel. No human being can take credit or glory for evangelism work. Ours is only a little part of being available to be the mouthpiece of God, but God makes it work out successfully.

  • Proclaim the Gospel by Personal Evangelism!

The second effective way to share the good news is to proclaim the gospel truth personally, one-on-one. Lydia would never have heard the gospel if Paul and his team did not accept the call to proclaim the gospel truth to her. 

Apostle Paul makes this truth clear in Rom.10:14-17, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news’”. See also, 1 Cor.9:22

Since creation to our day, God’s plan remains using the human means to achieve divine ends. Every believer is an apostle, ‘the sent ones.’ For others to be saved, you and I must tell them the gospel, or at least get them to somewhere where they can hear it. But because most don’t want to come here, so you must tell them out there.

Let us not be mistaken, my brothers and sisters, it is not just the priest who should share the gospel, but believers. That is why once Lydia was baptized, she went and shared it with her family, and they were all baptized (16:15a). She was probably a widow and head of her family.

Lydia was effective in personal evangelism to her family and are we to our families and to our friends. There is no better effective evangelism than personal evangelism. 

Paul puts it well in 2 Cor.5:11, “Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God and I hope it is known also to your conscience”.

A good mark of true conversion is when one has a strong desire to immediately share with others their new faith. 

We are all commanded to share the gospel with our families, friends and personal contacts and make sure they know and obey the gospel! 

Don’t let the day or week go without sharing the gospel in your household and family members. 

  • Invite New Believers to Personal Transformation!

The third effective way of sharing the gospel is to invite the new believer into personal transformation of living like Jesus and serving like Jesus. Sharing the gospel is not complete until the believer conforms to the lifestyle of Jesus and becomes a disciple. 

After receiving the gospel, Lydia shows her true conversion by expressing her desire to serve. The text shows how she pleaded to host and support Paul and his team. She began serving in the Kingdom immediately.

Paul puts it well in 2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new come.

Salvation demands transformation of our lives. For some it is dramatic, for others it is less so, but desires will be transformed. If you have no desire for Christ or His kingdom, you may be deceived. 

The early believers in the Book of Acts were so obedient to Jesus and His teachings that other people knew for certain they were His followers. There was something distinct about the way they spoke, acted, and lived that showed others they were followers of Christ. It’s something to think about when considering our own lives.

Do I love like he does?  Jesus’ own words tell us “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”(Romans 5:5). We have His power to love and serve others in His name. Jesus’ love was pure and sacrificial. Likewise, our love should cost us something. It may be in the form of material goods, but it also may be the sacrifice of extra patience, our time, etc. Each of us should ask self – (i) Is my life lived humbly and in humility as Jesus did? (ii) Do I forgive like Jesus? (iii) Do others see Jesus through me?

The key mark of the Christian when they bear fruit of the Christian faith. The extent to which we bear fruit of the Spirit is the extent to which we are a Christian or not.  So, our identity as a Christian is depended on whether we bear the fruit of Christian faith or not. We shall be judged by the fruit we produce, not by the spiritual gifts we had, or church activities we performed (1 Cor.13:1-3)! 

A WhatsApp message circulating recently states it well this way, “Many Christians grow up in the church, but never grow in Christ. They know hymns, but they don’t know Him”. 

My brothers and sisters the effective way to share the gospel is by calling people to be transformed and to live and serve like Jesus!


I end this message with the way Jesus sought the lost and a story to cement it!

During his earthly ministry, Jesus searched for two different kinds of people: 

(1) those who had never known him and were alienated from a life of faith.  These included, the taxi collectors & sinners. 

Question: How many non-believers, unchurched and alienated people are out there that need us to evangelize to?  

Is St. Augustine reaching people who live in neighborhood around this church building? Are you reaching out to them so they are not lost? Are you reaching those living in immoral lifestyle of corruption, alcoholism, prostitution, drugs, etc.? In other words, ‘Who is seeking the lost’?

(2) those religious leaders, like Pharisees, who did not want to associate with sinners so they don’t compromise their faith. For us, this could me some of us church goers who are believe we are too holy and set apart to reach out to others.

Remember that Lydia was religious or god-fearing, what Acts 16:14 calls, “worshiper of God”, but was not a Christian!  

Question: Are there categories of people we are not sharing the gospel with because they don’t fit our category?

Are you sharing the gospel with the religious category? Those who are regular attend worship but have not known Christ? 

To religious leaders, Jesus said elsewhere in Matt. 21:31, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you”. They were not happy with Jesus for attacking their integrity and their faith.

As today’s church, we must follow the example of Jesus and His apostle in having passion to find the lost and share the gospel.  So, the most important thing we Christians and the Church should do is to reach out to those who need to hear the good news about Jesus. Everything else is secondary. We are told in 2 Peter 3:9 that, He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

And in reaching out to the sinners, personal and persistent contact is a key factor. This is illustrated by a story told by one preacher: 

There was once a young man who courted a young lady in a very unusual way. Every day for one full year he sent her a special delivery letter. And so every day for 365 days she received a letter that he sent to her. Finally, one year later, she married. But she didn’t marry the young man who mailed all those letters. She married the postman who delivered them. After all, personal persistent contact makes all the difference!