Thursday 13 May 2021

Bible Book:

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?' … ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?' (vs 6 and 11)

Acts 1:1-11 Thursday 13 May 2021

Psalm 47


Today is Ascension Day when we commemorate the events that are recounted in the opening passages of the Book of Acts. The disciples have come together with Jesus and ask, is this the moment, is this the time, when it will all come together in some grand flourish? Is this the moment we have all been awaiting? Jesus chastises his disciples, even after all that they have lived through they are still getting it wrong. He tells them to wait upon the coming of the Holy Spirit and then they will begin to get it. Jesus then disappears from their sight. Why would anyone be surprised that the disciples stand staring into the sky asking themselves what happened? We can ask, with the disciple, what did just happen?

In some ways, it is easier for us to address that question because we are not living through it in real time. We have the benefit of hindsight, the overview, the experience of faith lived through many generations. In the face of that gracious and grace-filled event, we might find ourselves with the disciples staring into the sky wondering what happened. In the face of everyday challenges which confound our expectations, we might find ourselves like the disciples staring blankly in puzzlement.

We have been living through the global pandemic and it has raised for us all issues of concern. We have longed for a return to the known way, to resume our normal way of life, and yet have often been overwhelmed by the situation in which we have found ourselves. We are living through the crisis in real time and do not yet comprehend what it will be like when it is all over. We shall reach that point – no outbreak of plague lasts forever – and we shall look back and ask ourselves what happened. Those coming after us will read about Covid-19 as an historic event and shall know how the story ends. They will have a clearer understanding of what happened but, until then, we are left staring into the sky in wonderment.

What just happened in our biblical story is that the risen Christ carried back into the Godhead the wounds of his human experience, thereby making yet more thin the divide between heaven and earth. Christ’s ascension is a reminder of the Kingdom of God within our hearts, and of the ever-present Spirit of God, watching over and protecting us as we spread the light of Jesus’ truth throughout the world. Jesus completed his earthly mission of bringing salvation to all people and was physically lifted up from this world into heaven. The meaning and the fullness of Christ’s resurrection is given in the Ascension. Having completed his mission in this world as the saviour, he returned to the God in heaven and raised earth to heaven with him!

To Ponder:

  • Does Ascension Day feature much in your thinking or in the life of your local church? Or do you go from Easter to Pentecost without giving this day very much attention?
  • How important is it to you that we have that overview of the whole story of Christ and can exercise our discipleship in the light of our knowledge of the Resurrection and Ascension?
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