“. . . a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. Look, I’m sending to you what my Father promised, but you are to stay in the city until you have been furnished with heavenly power.” (Luke 24:47-49 CEB)
This Sunday is when we remember the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. The disciples met him in Galilee as he had instructed, and he spend his last moments with them here on earth teaching them once again about what they were called to do as his followers. In Matthew 28, it says to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In Luke the instructions are to go to Jerusalem until they receive the power of the Spirit, and the writer of Luke (also the writer of Acts) continues those instructions in Acts, Chapter 1.
In other words, go to Jerusalem and wait. Wait for the Spirit to empower you. Since Jesus wasn’t going to be around anymore, they would need the power of God to inspire and guide them in a different way. So they went to Jerusalem and waited, and waited, and waited. Of course, next week, we’ll hear that the Spirit came in the rush of a violent wind and tongue – as of fire – rested on the heads of the disciples, but this week we are sitting in-the-meantime.
What does that feel like? We all know what waiting is like. We wait in line at the grocery store; we wait in our cars as we are stuck in a traffic jam; we wait for a special date to arrive; we wait for the baby to arrive; we wait for the results of doctor’s tests; we wait for good news; we wait for school to be over or to start; we wait and wait and wait. How do we do that?
For many, and especially in our world today, waiting is very difficult. We are so used to instant everything: potatoes, microwave dinners, faster internet, cars that start without a key, cell phone access from anywhere in the world; books on smart pads or phones, and so forth. Our society is a “get it now” society. So waiting is hard, especially if we don’t keep busy in the meantime.
Living in the “meantime” is a challenge. Yet, I find that when I’m doing something productive (and maybe even not so productive if need be), time seems to go faster. What did the disciples decide to do? They trusted Jesus’ word and waited, but they spent their time worshiping him.
There – I said it – they worshiped Jesus to “pass the time.” Of course, they weren’t just passing the time! They were actively involved in giving thanks and praise to God for the gift of life in Jesus and the promise of the power of the Spirit. Today’s church can do no less. We might try living a life of praise and thanksgiving in our daily lives and certainly on Sunday mornings when we gather together to worship, just as the disciples did.
Waiting for Jesus to act, to return, to move through the Spirit doesn’t have to be passive. In fact, Jesus has left us instructions to go make a difference: to make disciples, to baptize, to help the poor, hungry, imprisoned, sick, naked, homeless, and outcasts of our society. As the church of Jesus Christ in the world, we actively spread the Good News of God’s love in Christ, and we have the companionship of the Holy Spirit as well as each other.
Even though we live in the “meantime,” we can be a part of continuing the work of Christ in the world by being active. We CAN make a difference!
Where have you reached out to someone who needed to feel the presence of Christ in their lives?
How will you worship and praise God every day?
In what ways will you share your gifts for God?