May 27, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. You will receive power [to enact His will] when the Holy Spirit comes on you. You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.’ After this, He was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid Him from their sight.” (Acts 1. 7-9)
Pentecost is coming, though the disciples who would become apostles, did not know the impact of that day in their history or the history of the world. But, it is only coming; it has not yet come. Jesus was taken up into Heaven just as easily and as powerfully as He was raised from the grave. It was a powerful moment as the movement of Christ followers was set in place. Jesus was gone from them again a second time. Fortunately, His third appearing would be last. But, allow that very thought of His second leaving wrap itself around you. We are not engaging a conversation about His Second Coming. In the midst of His second leaving, the thought about the future was as cloudy as the sky which hid the Ascended Jesus from their view. In Matthew’s gospel rendering, even at His appearance to the Eleven was received with mixed reviews: some believed, others doubted. I would daresay, His ascension did not necessarily change the minds of those who doubted. John’s gospel gives us a look into that same ambiguity. When Jesus appears at the lakeside to reconcile Peter with his appointed ministry, not all the disciples were present. Perhaps not all of the disciples found comfort in their grieving with fishing as did the fishermen who were called to be “fishers of men.” History will tell us that they all would take up the gospel ministry. Healing takes time and comes to us in different ways. It isn’t always where we start and how we start but how we finish whenever we finish. And the finish of their ministry would be as unknown as to the day and time of Christ’s return. But, how difficult it must have been for that small community of faith numbering 120 to absorb Jesus “leaving” them again. But, if His first leaving and return meant anything apart from the fulfillment of their salvation, it meant this: I AM coming again.
Isn’t this where we find our comfort and solace? The return of the King in the future based on the return of the Christ in the past was now not in doubt. It would be as He said. For ten days, this small community of faith dealt with the reality of their new reality. They no longer asked for “getting back to normal.” Peter and some of the disciples gone fishing was that attempt. The two on the road to Emmaus was that attempt. Thomas in his grappling with the death of His Savior and friend was that attempt. Even the Temple leadership in all their dealings with Rome was that attempt. Regardless of all of these attempts, a “return to normal” was not feasible nor was it possible. Once Jesus was made known and introduced into the course of human history, “normal as they had known it” would only be a page in history. It was no longer a living reality. It had no power to effect the change that was needed. That small community of faith was now formed and shaped for the “new normal.” It would be built upon elements of the past. It would be built away from some of the elements of the past. But, it was a new day and a new time and a new reality. Like it or not, it was the reality intended by God to be revealed in Jesus as the Christ. It was the reality intended by God to be revealed in the followers of Christ.
It is the same reality of the “new normal” that we must promote as a community of faith. It prepares us to meet the events of this broken world each time they unfold. Our connection to those in tragic and mournful situations such as what unfolded and continues to unfold in Uvalde, Texas, is that opportunity for ministry within the paradigm of the “new normal.” What has left will be brought back. What a day of rejoicing that will be. We may not always be able to justify the moment in time, if ever. We may not be able to reconcile ourselves to the heart rending, mind bending and spirit challenging reality that speak into our lives as survivors. But, we can affirm that in the new normal of “faith in Jesus as the Christ” there is hope and there is power. It is the hope and power of life which calls us to move forward to make of this world a different and better place. It will never be perfect. That perfection is coming when Jesus returns as Christ the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is going away to build that perfection and prepare a place for us to be in it with Him. All we have to do is to believe. And what is it that we must believe? Is it not that without Him as the “way, truth and life” of the new normal there is nothing but the broken and chaotic normal we see being unveiled and unraveled as we pass through each day? How long will we accept this type of living? It is everpresent in, as the line goes in the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate!” We must fail no longer. Pentecost of 29 A.D., was the signal of the beginning of the Good News Broadcast. The old has passed away in its power and effect. Death no longer has sway over our lives because the new has come. He came after three days from His crucifixion and dwelt on earth showing us again as it would be in Heaven. He is coming again. With His coming we must be as equally faithful and prepared to do His will as our will.
What are we to do? Well, those ten days between Jesus’ ascension into Heaven and the day of Pentecost inform us greatly. I invite you to reflect with me on those days as next week we move toward Pentecost 2022. Until then, shalom, y’all, and may the peace of Christ that surpasses all human understanding be yours in full and to overflowing.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Abba, Father, our home is with You on earth as it is in Heaven. Empower us to take Your Word as the critical voice of reformation and reconciliation and speak the truth in love. We know this world is not forever. We know, too, that we are called to make of this world a better place. Yours is the glory and the design that makes the most sense. We offer ourselves to You so that Your will be done and our will be Yours. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.