A couple of things hit me this morning during the Ascension Day service at St. Andrew’s. The readings were a reminder of the promises of Jesus. Last Sunday we had the promise of ‘the counselor’ who would come to the disciples in Jerusalem. They were commanded to wait for this before leaving the city. Today, we heard this through words written by Luke in Acts 1:4-5, On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jeruslem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John Baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Further along in Acts (today’s reading) two men dressed in white stood beside the disciples as they were looking intently up into the sky as Jesus was going. In Acts 1:11 comes the next powerful promise yet to be fulfilled, “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Now what I really found amazing about today’s service was the response of the disciples to all of this. In Luke 24:51-53 we read, While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
This is what really set me thinking. What would happen here, in this place, if we were to stay continuously in the church praising God until the day of Pentecost? Would we be expectant like the disciples? What do we expect when we go to church? At a minimum, we would have to do something in the church. We would joyfully greet all who visited, we would give rest and solace and nourishment to worn out and tired souls, we would dust and polish the furniture and perhaps even organise some shelves and bookcases. Then we might wash the beautiful stained glass windows and perhaps see clearly through the sparkling colours the presence of the holy spirit in our midst.