Acts 1:6-26 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 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.”
I was attending a women’s retreat at Black Mountain several years ago and during our free time Saturday afternoon, a group decided to hike to the ranger’s station at the top of the mountain. Sounded exciting to me and I love to hike so off I went.
Along our hike, we encountered several things that were fascinating, capturing our imagination; an old abandoned log cabin, a random brick fireplace standing in the middle of the woods, beautiful flowers that were growing in the most unusual places, as well as a lovely stream of cool, clear water. For sure these were unexpected blessings. As the sun began to set, we headed back to camp never making it to the top of the mountain due to the glorious things we had encountered on the journey. My friend Kathleen was really disappointed and let us all know about it. Then something happened, as she listened to us sharing our experience of the hike and all the wonderful things we had encountered, she realized that she had become so focused on the destination, she totally missed the journey.
I believe the same goes for the apostles Jesus was speaking to as he ascended out of sight. They became so preoccupied with the how and where of Jesus’ ascension, they totally missed the point. Jesus promised: “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.” Jesus is telling them and us to see the world with new eyes. Eyes more focused on what is going on around us such as people in need, marginalized, discriminated against. People starving, sick, lonely, abused, and neglected. I am certain Jesus was trying to help us to see the world with new eyes and to respond in a way that honors others and blesses Jesus.
We don’t journey alone.
We have the gift of the Holy Spirit with us in all things and through all things. The Spirit empowers us to cross barriers and enter into places we would not normally go, to be with people different from us. The Spirit enables us to be the incarnate body of Christ in the world.
I am certain the apostles were asking the wrong questions:
· Instead of asking where did Jesus go we should be asking to whom Jesus is asking us to be with.
· Instead of asking how did he ascend we should be asking how are we going to respond to the needs of the world around us.
We are to see the world with new eyes. . . may be not become so heavenly focused(final destination) that we are no earthly good.
1. To whom are we being called?
2. How will we know them well enough to know their needs?
3. How are we going to help them in a way that restores their dignity, hope, and enables them to claim that they too are wonderfully and marvelously made in the image of God?