…gazing up to heaven?

Do you find yourself gazing up to heaven?  If so: for what reason?  When Jesus ascended – and Thursday was Ascension Day – the disciples were left gazing up to heaven. How were they going to manage without Jesus in person?  What did this mean?  They were challenged by two men in white robes.  That challenge effectively brought them down to earth, back to their present and the task Jesus had set them. We too are challenged – challenged not to wonder about the future but to live in the here and now.  For the Kingdom of God starts now.

Perhaps we are distracted by the many groups telling us that we are living in the end-times.  Sadly such apocalyptic beliefs are often used to justify extreme views.  Current events are described so that they appear to fit the biblical pictures.  Back in the days of the Reformation many protestants were convinced that they were living in the end-times and that the Pope was the Anti-Christ.  In anticipation of the second coming New Jerusalems were established.  Today it is claimed by some that the attack on Ukraine is to reclaim it from the anti-Christ of the decadent West.  Then there is the denial of the need for action in the area of climate change – Jesus is coming so why bother?  But this is to deny our role in Jesus’s work, that of stewardship of the earth.  

Christ’s ascension proclaims that the whole creation will be redeemed in him.  The disciples wanted to know when.  Their desire to see God’s authority on earth restored and Israel re-instated was strong. No doubt it was an admirable desire but it belongs to the future.  Jesus tells them that it is not for them to know the timing but that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came on them and they would also witness to the life and work of Jesus, not only in Jerusalem but also in Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

We know that the disciples did indeed receive the Holy Spirit and witness to the life and work of Jesus.  Are we prepared to receive the Spirit …or are we still gazing up to heaven?

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