Wait for it

Today is Ascension Day in the church calendar, the day we celebrate the ascension of Jesus 40 days after Easter and 10 days before Pentecost. Over the next ten days we will transition from Eastertide to the season of Pentecost, the six-month long part of the church calendar we call Ordinary Time as we turn our formational focus to following Jesus in our regular ordinary days at home and work and play.

The days of Eastertide wrap up with the most intense waiting period yet. Jesus has been with his disciples since the day of the Resurrection and now he springs something else on them: He’s going away (again) and instructing them to wait (some more) until God sends the Holy Spirit.

We can only imagine their trauma. They witnessed Jesus arrested and tried and murdered in the most brutal way. And for three days they were in limbo, not knowing. He said he’d rise up but that was impossible once he was physically dead. But he did! And he has been with them for weeks. Things were “back to normal”. But they weren’t. Jesus was the same but different. People didn’t recognize him at first but the wounds were still visible, proof he had been crucified. Despite what all the world had done to him, he rose from the dead, not just resuscitated but risen from three days dead to new life, and he continued to model for them God’s love and to ask them to do the same.

The writer of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that after Jesus “was taken up and disappeared in a cloud,” that they just stood there looking at the empty sky1. Can’t you just picture the dumbfounded looks on their faces? Wait … what?! What just happened?! Where did he go?! What are we to do now!?!

“Wait. Wait for what God has promised. Wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to empower and guide you. Remember all that I taught you. Be witnesses of the goodness of God’s kingdom here and now and share this good news to the whole world!”

Waiting on God doesn’t mean doing nothing. Waiting on God is about following Jesus and living as Kingdom people, doing the things that build up people with God’s Love.

The apostles and disciples of Jesus spent the ten days between the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) together, working out their emotions about the betrayal of Judas, seeking understanding from God’s Word and discerning God’s will for the leadership team to prepare themselves to continue to fulfill their role in God’s plan.

We wait on God as we live into our purpose of participating with God to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

What do you need to discern about God’s purpose and plan for our renewed resurrection life together in our time and place? The apostles and disciples were sent out to carry their first-hand witness of God’s goodness to “the ends of the earth.”

As we all begin to transition out of our necessary quarantining and staying home because of the COVID19 pandemic, where and how will you carry your first-hand witness of God’s goodness into the world?

1I find it curious that the writer of the Gospel according to Luke is also supposed to have written Acts. In Luke, the writer ends this story with the apostles returning to Jerusalem “bursting with joy.” In Acts, it’s like the writer has to correct the story because I don’t know about you but staring dumfounded into the sky until a couple of angels snap you out of it is much more believable to me that doing a joyful dance at Jesus’ leaving again (or is that just my own past traumas talking). It’s like the end of Luke is the social media version and Acts is what really happened.

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