The Ascension of our Lord is a feast day of the Christian Church but it is not often celebrated like many other feast days. The primary reason for this, I believe is because it falls on a Thursday. Some churches do have a celebration of the ascension on the Sunday following the actual day.
The reason that Ascension is on a Thursday is because the Ascension happens forty days after Easter. For forty days Jesus spent teaching his disciples about life without him, Jesus assured the disciples that even though he was going going to be with them physically that his presence was always with them. I can only imagine how the disciples felt, it would have been an amazing to be with Jesus again but it would have been terrible to know that they were going to lose Jesus again. Not only did they spend three years with Jesus; learning from him and experiencing amazing ministry but they were able to look into the eyes of the one who died for them and then came back to life and continued to minister to them.
Then on the 40th day, he ascended in the sight of his disciples.
The assurance of Jesus’ promise to be with the disciples does not stop with the disciples, it is promised to us as well. When we have times in our life when we feel like we have lost everything we may cry out to God for help, we may look towards heaven begging for Jesus to come down and help us because Jesus promises to be with us. Then we remember that Jesus promises not only to be with us but that the Holy Spirit will be with us until the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
After Jesus assures his disciples of the Holy Spirit’s presence with them he ascends into heaven. After Jesus ascends the disciples continue to look into the skies perhaps wondering what happened to Jesus, if he really left them again. Then suddenly two men in white robes ask the disciples “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”
I think that the disciples want things the way they were with Jesus around, I believe that they were hoping that when Jesus returned he would stay forever. Don’t we wish for the same thing? Don’t we wish things would be the way things they once were when things were going well? I remember a time in my life when I was at the end of my rope. I knew that I did not have enough time, money or resources to be doing not only what I wanted to do, but what I thought God was calling me to do!! I looked up into the sky and said “okay God, you brought me here now you have to tell me what to do next!!! Are you listening to me?!?!?” I wanted the clarity of my next steps to be there like my calling. I wanted God to show up the way God did before, with a message burning on my heart.
I felt like the disciples probably felt, abandoned……again…..
I made it through my disaster and looking back I believe that God never abandoned me because God loves me. However, when we are going through difficulties in our lives it is harder to see God because we start to put our trust in ourselves instead of God. We think we need to get ourselves out of our tough places instead of depending on the one who promises to be with us always, the one who sent Jesus in to the world to show us how much God loves us.
Then when Jesus ascends, he promises that we will not be alone, Jesus promises us that he will send another advocate to be with us. We can know that we have God looking over us, Jesus ministering to us and the advocate- the Holy Spirit leading and guiding us on our journey.
We can continue to look up to the skies for help and God promises to always be there. But part of our call is to look around us to see the needs of our brothers and sisters as well. Together we are all the body of Christ, and together we can support one another on this journey knowing that the Spirit moves around us, leading and guiding us along life’s journey with the promise that our God will is always there.