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Sky Gazers and Ponderers
by Elaine Pierce
These verses are startling in their simplicity, aren't they? Jesus tells his disciples that very soon they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. They assume that means that God's kingdom - restoring Israel to its rightful place as a world power - is imminent. (v. 6) But Jesus says that is not the purpose of the Holy Spirit. Yes, they will receive power, but that power is to proclaim the word of God in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (v. 8) - including Columbus, Ohio!
As they are pondering this truth, Jesus is "taken up" before their very eyes, into heaven. They gaze intently upward, looking for him, and two men appear before them. Take a look at what they tell the disciples in verse 11:
"Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
I cannot imagine how the disciples felt. Confused. Exhilarated. Devastated that once again their beloved Rabbi has left them. Full of wonder. Frightened - what do we do now?
The rest of the book of Acts recounts the beginnings of the church. And we know that these disciples indeed spread the word to the ends of the earth: our church is living proof of that.
The Apostles' Creed tells us that "Jesus rose again from the dead." Acts 1:1-11 opens with the story of Jesus' ascension. The disciples stand in wonder as he is taken up into heaven. The men dressed in white (angels) assure them that Jesus will return. In the meantime, the Holy Spirit will descend on them (Acts 2) and their work will begin in earnest.
God is going to move in the hearts of his people. What a joy it is that we can join him in ministry. Stand in awe, in reverence, in worship. And then, move forward. He has work for us.
Lord, thank you for sending your Holy Spirit. We join you in the work of sharing your word in Columbus and around the world. As each day dawns, help us to see your face and to follow your word. You give us good gifts, and you give us work to do. Amen.