Last Sunday we heard Jesus' new commandment for us: "Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another."
This Sunday (which is Ascension Sunday, by the way) we'll hear Jesus' instructions for us: "You will be my witnesses...to the ends of the Earth."
It is a remarkable scene, and one that is shared only in Acts (not in any of the Four Gospels). In fact, you could really see it as the bridge between the Gospels (telling of Jesus' mission, ministry, and mighty acts) and Acts (telling of the wonderful work that has been done in Jesus' name by his disciples and followers).
Jesus and his disciples go up a high mountain and there Jesus offers some final, parting words of instruction. Then, amazingly (and with no explanation!) Jesus is lifted up and a cloud takes him out of their sight. He's gone. Just like that. And what an exit!
The disciples are standing there dumbstuck (or is it awestruck!) at the scene. They are staring blankly into the sky trying to figure out what exactly just happened and what they should do next. Suddenly two men in white robes are standing there. Their appearance is miraculous, their white-garb a dead giveaway that these are in fact angels, not merely men (although, interestingly the text never makes that point clear) and they deliver word of explanation, "Jesus has been taken up to heaven."
So the disciples take Jesus' last words of instruction to heart and they immediately run out and start sharing the good news of the gospel "to the ends of the Earth," right? Right?!?
Well, not exactly. They come down the mountain and do something else first. Something important. Something that we often forget and certainly take for granted. And that is what we'll be talking about in worship this Sunday! (How is that for a tease!)
Come join us this Sunday as we celebrate Christ's Ascension, strive to live into his final words of instruction, and seek to faithfully live out the example of his disciples. Oh, and we'll be commissioning our Church Campers this Sunday, so come and be a part of that too!
Acts 1:6-14 The Ascension of Jesus
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 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.’
When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards 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.’
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.
When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.