Blog: 26 May Ascension to Pentecost
‘And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ Matthew 28:20
‘And this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ John 17:3
Blessed are you, creator God,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your Spirit moved over the face of the waters
bringing light and life to your creation,
pour out your Spirit on us today
that we may walk as children of light
and by your grace reveal your presence.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Last Thursday was Ascension day, 40 days after Easter, the day that Jesus left earth, saying goodbye to his disciples and ascended into heaven, once again to reign with God. Or, as somebody texted me: ‘To those who wonder what the feast of Ascension is about, it’s the day when Jesus started to work from home!’ I smiled.
Ascension is clearly supernatural happening and is hard to explain for any of us. But one of the things we know about Jesus being the Son of God, did the work that the Father gave him to do (John 17:4): he healed people, he set people free, he loved people, he was crucified, paying the penalty of the sins of the world, he rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and now he inhabits eternity. A new order of existence is being created: one in which the linear day to day patterns of time are penetrated by God’s timeless presence. Another way of putting this is that the vertical eternal dimension of reality pierces the horizontal three-dimensional reality. If you think this is confusing, you’re not the only one! We are talking here about things we can’t see or prove or measure, but we believe because of the testimony of the disciples of Jesus, over 500 of whom saw the risen Christ – and because of the transforming presence of Christ in our lives – in my own life – by his Spirit.
I’m sure the disciples were also confused too. what were they to do now? Their leader, their teacher, their friend, their Lord had gone, ascended into heaven and was no longer with them. His last words to them were these: ‘And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:20). But where was he now? He certainly wasn’t physically with them, so what did he mean?
They had been told to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was given to them. Wait. What next? And this is the point at which I think we can identify with those disciples. They were living in confusing unprecedented times which they didn’t really understand and couldn’t explain. They were in a form of lockdown in the upper room in Jerusalem, and going daily to the temple to pray. Communal waiting. They didn’t know what direction to go in or what might come next, and they didn’t really understand their purpose in life. They had to wait. And waiting is hard.
We are doing a lot of waiting right now. Scientific investigation helps us to work out what is likely to happen, but to make sense of it all in our own lives, we need to reflect, to talk with others, to listen to music, read poetry, contemplate art, pray and listen to what God says through his word, the Bible. What was normal is in the past and in this waiting and listening time – the in-between of lockdown - we have the opportunity to think about and pray what we would like the future to hold, as individuals, as families and as a community. Take time in your waiting to draw close to the Lord and to pray for those you know and love to open their hearts to Him. He will guide us to what comes next by his Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
As we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray ‘Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven’ and we join with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
Listen to and join in singing this song written especially for this year, between Ascension Day and Pentecost: Thy Kingdom Come: https://youtu.be/Ezngc-CMe-c