Written on: May 19, 2020
No fan-fare. No trumpet. No singing, “Glory to God in the Highest.” His disciples gazed upward, dumbfounded.
What’s important aren’t the trappings, or the wrappings of the story, but the message and meaning that are at the core of my belief that Jesus ascended into heaven. The ascension of Jesus affirms that Jesus is now sitting at the right hand of God; that Jesus is one with God: and thus Jesus’ love, compassion and power are not bound by limits of time and space but that his love, compassion and power are available to all, always and forever.
Jesus directed the disciples to a mountain and said that all authority had been given to him and that he entrusted that authority to those who are his disciples. They were told to, “go and make disciples” of every ethnic group and every nation. The words are powerful because it indicates that land of origin, nationality, religious viewpoint- all the things that tend to divide- no longer are meant to divide. Everyone has the right to hear the good news of God’s love and be included in the household of God.
No one standing around watching them that day could have guessed what an astonishing thing happened when they all stopped looking at the sky and started looking at each other instead. But, in the days and years to come it would become very apparent what happened to them. With nothing but a promise and a prayer those eleven disciples consented to become the church and nothing was ever the same again. They stopped looking up toward heaven, looked at each other instead and got on with the business of being the church.
So what does it mean to get on with the business of the church? Well, Luke tells us they journeyed back to Jerusalem as Jesus told them, and there they waited as Jesus instructed. This was a time of prayer, friendship and discernment before they would be empowered to live out their God given mission.
I think this story has much to teach us about tearing our eyes away from the heavens in order to see and participate in what God is doing in our midst and in order to bring to the world Christ message, God’s dream, of hope for the hopeless, food for the hungry, justice for the oppressed, a voice for the voiceless, and love for those who have been discarded by the world.
Sister Mary Mulligan, GNSH has had a life journey that has taken her to a variety of ministries. Originally missioned: as an elementary school teacher, she also served as a guidance/vocational counselor, an alcohol and drug counselor and as social service coordinator at a senior apartment complex. She experienced all of these various positions as a good fit. “I grew and thrived, witnessed and experienced the Good Fridays, the Easter Sundays, and now I add the Ascension Thursdays, of our lives.”
Featured image courtesy of Chuttersnap/Unsplash