Ascension Day, and the Rapture that Wasn’t

May 23, 2011 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

“So when the disciples had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But 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.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward 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.”

– Acts 1:6-11

Well, we know that Jesus didn’t reveal himself on May 21, 2011. But is that what we’re to be primarily waiting for and trying to figure out – the exact date of his final revealing? For those who believe, we believe that Jesus is present each day, and is judging, and blessing, and sustaining us in our lives. We believe this because he is risen from the dead, ascended to the Father, and is sending the the spirit of power among us, the Holy Spirit who rules by love.

On Ascension Day, we remember our risen Lord’s ascension to heaven, the completion of his mission on earth. We long for the day when his kingdom is revealed to all humanity. But as the text above shows, this is not to be our primary focus as we live in him, for as it says in the Gospel of Matthew, “we cannot know the day or the hour” of his revealing. Rather, the risen Jesus has promised us power to be witnesses to his reign of love as we live in our generation. As he has been given power over all things, his power is shown not chiefly in supernatural signs and wonders from the realm of science fiction, but in the lives of his faithful people. Empowered by the promised Holy Spirit, we are called to do the things which he did: controlling self, forgiving others, serving others, healing others, proclaiming God’s victory over sin, death, and evil, and living lives of constant praise to God the Father. In the Holy Communion, which Jesus gave as a constant memorial of his presence among us, we have Jesus’ revealing among us: a sign of the forgiveness of sins in his name, a pledge of the Holy Spirit, and a foretaste of the banquet that awaits us when his rule is revealed to all.

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