When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They 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 1:9-11)
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THE ACCOUNTS of Jesus ascending into heaven forty days after his resurrection are odd. Between the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (same writer) we get a vague picture of a remarkable event that played out unremarkably with surprising abruptness. The resurrected Jesus is off with the disciples, instructing them to stick around in Jerusalem and wait for the Spirit, when with no flash, nor thunder, nor fanfare, nor any sound, he is lifted up and out of view into a passing cloud. (I am reminded of the mysterious cloud that showed up on the mount of transfiguration.)
And where did the white-robed men come from? What are you standing around looking up for? they ask, as if “up” is not where it’s at. And so the disciples went down the hill, Acts continues, and got down to business as if the Ascension of Jesus is not the point. At least not yet. God quickly draws the disciples’ attention to the matters at hand. The next chapter in an ongoing story.
PRAYER FOR ASCENSION
Ascended Lord, help me to rise above
the things that hold me down,
the press of problems,
the weight of worry,
the drag of doubt,
fear of failure,
I can’t explain your presence, but I feel it. I don’t need understanding to acknowledge your mysterious nearness. I don’t even always KNOW which way is up, but when I see the light, I can follow it. When I feel its warmth, I can lean into it. And when I find the light, I can share it. I will wait for your Spirit. O come, renewing breath of God. Come.
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