I wrote this meditation as part of a larger assignment for the ELCA; it may have been sent to some of you electronically, but most of you won't have seen it. I'm reprinting it here, and I'm hoping that the ELCA won't mind. The prayer that follows was composed this morning.
The readings for the Feast of the Ascension:
First Reading: Acts 1:1-11
Psalm: Psalm 47
Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 93
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23
Gospel: Luke 24:44-53
In today’s reading, we get a summary of the life of Jesus, and then, in a sentence, it’s over. Jesus ascends into Heaven, leaving behind gaping disciples.
They don’t get to stare into the sky very long. They have a task to do. It’s the same task that we have.
Today’s reading gives us the paradox of God’s good news. The kingdom of God is both here, now, already, but it is also not yet fulfilled. Those two conditions seem impossible to reconcile. It seems impossible to live with both conditions existing simultaneously--and yet, it is what we are called to do.
Many of us spend much of our lives as those men of Galilee, gaping into the heavens; we spend time thinking about Heaven, plotting how to get there, anticipating the time when all our tears will be wiped away.
But the coming Sundays of the Pentecost season remind us that we’re not put on Earth to wait to die. We are here to help God in the ultimate redemption of creation. Jesus began that work of that redemption. We are here to further it along, at least as much as we can during our very short time here.
And how do we do that? The possible answers to that question are as varied as humanity. Some of us will pray without ceasing. Some of us will fight for social justice. Some of us will create works that point others to God. Some of us will visit the lonely and the sick. Some of us will give away our money so that others have the resources to do the creation redeeming work that needs to be done.
Whatever we choose, it’s important that we get to work. We don’t want to get to the end of our time here, only to be asked, “Why did you stand there gaping, when there was so much work to do?”
Prayer for the Feast of the Ascension:
Ascending God, you understand our desire to escape our earthly bonds, to hover above it all, to head to Heaven now instead of later. Remind us of our earthly purpose. Reassure us that we have gifts and talents that are equal to the tasks that you need us to do. Help us close our gaping mouths and get to work.