Reflection for Ascension Day May 26, 2022
New Testament Lesson Acts 1:1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But 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.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They 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.”
The Gospel According to Luke 24:44-53
Jesus said to his disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you– that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
I have done what I came to do, he tells them. Now it is your turn. It is now our turn to continue, to spread the Good News. We can’t just stand there looking up. We need to get about the work that Jesus began. The Spirit-empowered church is to be the continuing presence of the Christ in the world. Ascension Day is a good time for a Church community to assess where it has been and where it is going. We need to ask ourselves why we are here and exactly what is it we are supposed to be doing. Our lesson for this day provides us with much needed information on what we should be doing and what our final destination is as we travel this road in ministry with Jesus. As a church we need to not be so inwardly focused that we forget our true purpose. Lack of direction and purpose is often the reason people leave the church or worse yet a reason they never find themselves involved in church at all. We just can’t continue to look up if we are to continue as a thriving church and spread the Good news of Christ. We need to look at the world around us and be there for those in need. Knowing that the best of the Jesus story, the very worldly part, has yet to come. In the end is our beginning…something God alone can see. So, the ending is also the beginning.
Endings and beginnings—life is full of both.
Let us Pray: Almighty Eternal God, fill us with joy and gratitude because in the Ascension of your Son you have elevated man. We are called to glory into which Christ preceded us and in the unity of the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with you forever. Amen.