Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that as we believe your only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. – ACNA Collect for Ascension
Today is the feast of the Ascension – an event in Jesus’ life that gets less focus than it probably should. Only two of the gospels mention it at all (and Mark only gives it one line). The fullest account comes from the opening of the book of Acts.
Yet, the New Testament writers latch onto this. Christ has been raised in glory and seated at the right hand of the Father. As the Collect (prayer) for this feast prays – it is promised for us to follow Him to this glory. Jesus became like us in birth, growth, pain, suffering and death. We who believe have become like Him in resurrection and in life. We will be like Him in glory.
According to Jesus’ words, the disciples were to wait until the Spirit came. Jesus would send the Spirit from heaven, who would not only be with them, but in them. So the events of the Ascension and Pentecost are inextricably linked. In John 16, Jesus says that He cannot send the Spirit unless He departs from the disciples.
Today, I am thinking about the time for the disciples between the Ascension and Pentecost. Acts tells us that they were fearful. Could they also have been doubtful? How long is the travel time between earth and the right Hand of the Father? Did the Spirit need to make travel arrangements? (of course not on both of these questions) – but there are 10 days between Jesus going to glory and the Spirit’s arrival.
For 10 days, the disciples were in a holding pattern. They didn’t have Jesus, and they didn’t have The Spirit. No leadership, no commission, no purpose, save existing.
As we await the return of Christ, there will be seasons that feel like this for us. No direction, no purpose. Just existing. The waiting for the disciples was about being ready. The city was filing with people for the Feast of Pentecost, and God was preparing to send the Good News to the whole world through those pilgrims. He wanted the disciples to be there – to be ready.
As we endure seasons of waiting – it may be that The Spirit is speaking and we aren’t listening. But, it may also be that God is keeping us in place or giving us time to prepare for something amazing that He has in mind.
Have a blessed Ascension Day!