“A Season of Waiting”


Ascension of the Lord

May 28, 2017


Text:  Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-11


    Last Thursday was the 40th day after Easter, Ascension Day, for Scripture tells us that Jesus ascended into heaven 40 days after he rose from the dead.  We are observing Ascension of the Lord today because it is a significant event in the church’s ongoing story, but very few people will show up for worship on a weekday.

    During those 40 days between his resurrection and his ascension, Jesus convincingly proved himself to be alive and taught his disciples many things about the Kingdom of God.  He also told them that they would soon receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and serve as Jesus’ witnesses in all the world.  But before that happened, he told them to wait in the city until they received the power from heaven that would come when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  Then he ascended, and the disciples worshipped him.  After that the disciples returned to Jerusalem filled with joy.  During the days that followed, they praised God at the Temple.  They waited prayerfully for what God had promised.

    This is a season of waiting for me.  In 33 days I will no longer be your pastor, and will be retired from full-time ministry.  I am waiting to see what all that means, although some of the pieces are already falling into place.  

    This is also a season of waiting for this church.  About a month from now Pastor Jae will move into the parsonage.  33 days from now she officially begins her duties as your pastor.  You, too, are waiting to see what lies ahead as you and she begin ministry together in this place.

    Now waiting, it seems to me, comes with a mixture of excitement and anxiety.  Thinking about new possibilities and new hopes can be exciting.  But there is also the awareness that things might not turn out the way we hoped, that there will be challenges and pitfalls along the way, that we might end up disappointed.  

    Surely Jesus’ disciples knew something about this.  They were, of course, filled with joy.  Their Lord was risen!  He had ascended into heaven!  He had promised them power from on high through the Holy Spirit to guide them and strengthen them for what lay ahead!  Knowing this had to be exciting.  But surely there was some anxiety there, too.  What would it mean for them to be witnesses for Jesus throughout all the earth?  How would they carry on his work without him being physically present to teach and guide them?  

Surely what sustained the disciples of Jesus as they waited with both anxiety and excitement was prayerful waiting.  I imagine that as they worshipped at the Temple, as they gathered together daily, they did not only talk with each other.  They prayed that God would guide them on the next steps of their journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.  They prayed for patience, for they did not know how long they were going to have to wait, and long waiting tends to lead to higher levels of anxiety.  I believe they prayed that they would be prepared for God’s gift of power to come upon them, and that they would be able to use it to do what Jesus had for them to do.

Wait prayerfully for what God has promised.

Now the gift that Jesus had promised came to the disciples just 10 days later at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in a mighty rush of wind and flame and the disciples became bold witnesses for Christ to anyone who was in earshot.  That gift has also been given to us.  We don’t have to wait for God’s gift.  It is already here.

Yet this is a time to wait, for we know changes will be happening in the life of this church as a new pastor arrives and begins serving among you.  We don’t yet know all of what God has in store in this time of transition.  That will become clearer as time passes.  I do believe that what God wants for this church is good.  And I hope and pray that what happens as a result of Pastor Jae being your pastor is good and will be received as such.

Wait prayerfully for what God has promised.  

I want to stress that word “prayerfully”.  Please pray for this church and for Pastor Jae in these weeks as you await her arrival and the beginning of her pastorate in this place.  Please pray that God’s work will be done in this church as you work together with her.  Please pray that any obstacles that may be faced in this process will be overcome.  Please pray that both Pastor Jae and the people of this church will be open to God’s leading and direction and willing to follow wherever that takes you.

Wait prayerfully for what God has promised.  Jesus has ascended and has been given all authority in earth and heaven.  The gift of power through the Holy Spirit has been given. Each of you, along with Pastor Jae, is one of God’s human instruments through which God’s will can be accomplished in this church, this community, and the wider world.  The gift has been given.  Please make every effort to put it to good use.

Wait prayerfully for what God has promised, and use it for God’s purposes. Amen.

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