Jesus speaks with authority. His followers fumble as they try to grasp his meaning. In that way, we are like Jesus’ first followers. Do our priorities indicate our ignorance?
Jesus’ mission, while clear as crystal to some, is as opaque as split pea soup to others. His first disciples thought that Jesus came to rescue Israel from the Romans. Some members in our congregations may have learned the error of that expectation. But we may have other expectations of our gracious God—such as the notion that if we pray enough God will eradicate cancer or reduce global warming or make peace with or without our investing ourselves in the effort. Could disappointment when such expectations are not met lead some to give up on God? Indeed, suffering, loss, disillusionment, and lesser reasons have lured many away from church.
Jesus instructs the disciples to wait for the Father’s promise. We sense in that instruction a powerful call to discernment. We are to ask God’s direction and listen and watch for it. We step up our praying with sacred scripture; we choose to be quiet in God’s presence so that we can better listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit. Those first disciples may have stood there with their mouths gaping open as they watched Jesus ascend, but we know Jesus is anything but gone from this world. Our gracious God keeps sending the Holy Spirit pulsing through our communities.
God, may the Ascension remind us that Jesus is in communion with you. May we deepen our intention to be part of the body of Christ. Help us be in communion as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in communion. May Jesus’ Ascension help us to prayerfully wait for and attentively discern your will, gracious God. Thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit, assuring us we are not alone to tend to our sorely troubled world. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives, especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow that advice—with disastrous results. In Acts, the apostles seek to replace Judas with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. First John reminds us that God’s words are trustworthy above all. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
Read Acts 1:1-11. How do you experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How does the Spirit guide you?
Read Psalm 1. Who are the people around you who exhibit the strength and fruitfulness of those described in this psalm?
Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart? How do you live differently as a result?
Read John 17:6-19. What helps you to sense God’s presence and protection in your life?
Respond by posting a prayer.