Today's Lectionary Text
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Can you picture this story? As the opening chapter of the book of Acts, it is an attention getter. The sequel story that Luke writes after the first book in the series the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to John. Now, we have Book 2, Acts of the Apostles.
It is as if the beginning of the television series begins and recaps the last moments of the last season and you begin another season of what is next in the life of these followers of Christ. Christ ascends to heaven in today’s Scripture. The disciples have all had various personal encounters with Jesus after he has risen from the dead. They seem to be gathered together, ask some last words together and then look towards the sky as Jesus departs.
The same words of the promise of the Holy Spirit, from John from Jesus’ prayer in John 17 are here: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” The same words of the Great Commission, that Matthew shared as the last words of Jesus are here: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And yet these words are shared in the in-between time of life with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Imagine the bewilderment and moments after Jesus ascended. The time of transition and figuring out what to do next. There are many times in our lives that we have endings and beginnings. The time in between the ending and beginning, is the time of transition. In May, we remember these transitions with graduates, in our families, in the in between times. Luke gives us a promise in the fifth sentence “For John baptized with water, but in a few days, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
On this last weekend of Easter and in this month of May, we remember the seasons in our lives that seem to be the in-between times. The big events and then the few days afterwards of looking around at each other to figure out what is next. Know that even in those times, there is the beginning of a new book to be written of the amazing work of God.
-- Rev. Nicole Conard
Prayer for Reflection
O God, we give you thanks for the life, death, and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ. You showed us how to live, die and live with you again. We are grateful. For times in our life that there are endings to what was, we pray that you would help us write the next book of how you are at work in our lives. Guide us this day by the power of your Holy Spirit. In your Son’s name we pray, Amen.
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