Acts 1:6- 11
6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Forty days after Easter we reach the Feast of Ascension. It’s a random Thursday that usually passes us by without much notice, but most churches who follow the liturgical calendar recognize it the following Sunday. It’s definitely a story worth our attention. The four gospels focus on Christ as Emmanuel, God with us and the story of Christ’s ministry on Earth. The rest of the New Testament mainly deals with the absence of Christ on earth and how the believers should live in light of this absence. This story is the bridge between the two.
The mystical element of Jesus rocketing away on a cloud may be hard for some of us to swallow, but no matter the manner of the exit, Jesus was certainly gone. In this account, it left the disciples looking up towards the heavens and undoubtedly saying “What the *&%$? Where did he go?”
A little boy went to church with his family on Ascension Sunday, and on the way home he asked his parents “Where is Jesus now?” It’s really a great question when you think about it- both for the disciples then and for us today. There are many ways to answer, but this story, and the story of Pentecost in the following chapter, leads us to think about the Church becoming the hands and feet of Christ on Earth. Because Christ is no longer here in the manifestation of a physical body; we are the ones that embody his teachings and carry on his work of love and justice. Like the disciples, staring up at the sky or navel gazing may not be the best use of our time when we are asked to share this love and justice to the ends of the earth.
Hope to see you Sunday!