Acts 1:8-11

Tuesday April 21, 2020

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1:8-11

When I was 9 years old my family moved from Minnesota to Arizona. We piled up in our 1972 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser and left our home in St Louis Park and went all the way – to Dawson. 3 hours west on Highway 7. It was our first stop because that’s where Grandma and Grandpa lived. I don’t remember leaving our house. I really have no memory of packing up my bedroom or 3rd grade belongings. I remember leaving Dawson. Why? Because I can still see Grandma and Grandpa standing in their front yard, waving goodbye until we turned on Highway 212 and headed west. They told me years later that they stayed there, looking toward the highway wondering if we might turn back. Eventually they realized that we were really gone and they went on their way.

This is the image that comes to mind when I hear the story of Jesus’ ascension. The disciples have just witnessed Jesus disappear into the heavens and they, understandably, remain there – looking up. Wondering – where did he go? Will he be back? Now what?

They needed a wake-up call, so to speak. So, two “white-robed men” asked them a simple question – “Why are you standing here staring into heaven?”

Not unlike my grandparents, the disciples stood there – stuck – wanting just one more glimpse of Jesus – but Jesus was no longer there.

I think that sometimes we “leave Jesus” at church. It’s ok to talk about our love for Jesus when we gather together, physically or virtually, on Sunday morning, but then go about the rest of our week without another thought.

What if, rather than thinking of Jesus as in one place that we visit every now and then, we grasp a hold of the truth that – where ever there are people gathered, Jesus is there.
People who are struggling – Jesus is there.
People who are celebrating – Jesus is there.
People who are grieving – Jesus is there.

And YOU – people – Jesus is with YOU. You are the hands and feet, voice and compassion of Jesus out in the world.
May we open our eyes to see Jesus – not in the heavens – but right here, in the presence of God’s people.

Let’s pray,
Gracious God, give us eyes to see Jesus in the people around us. Use us to share the love and compassion of Jesus to the people we meet. Amen.

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