Lenten Devotional: March 11th
He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the hand of the Father Almighty.
"So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?' He replied, 'It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'
– Acts 1:6-11
This is the text that we affirm each time we say that Christ has "ascended into heaven and sitteth at the hand of the Father Almighty." And how fun is it to say words like "sitteth" on a daily basis? When we remind ourselves of this truth, we are answering the unspoken question, "Where is Jesus NOW?"
Jesus is in heaven. Right now. In the physical sense he is no longer on Earth. Now, this doesn't mean he is not here or with us – just that he has ascended... for now. The Holy Spirit is still ever present here on earth, and we act as Christ's hands and feet in the world. Christ is in our hearts.
So when a frustrated teenager asks me why he's never gotten to see Jesus walking around Deep Ellum, this is my go-to answer. But this affirmation also assures us that Jesus is with his father, and our loving parent, "God the Father Almighty." Heaven is not cut off from us. We dine with Christ and all the saints in heaven each time we come to the communion table.
Having faith can be frustrating. It's hard to follow the example and wishes of a man you've never met or seen and only know about secondhand. Being a servant of Christ is difficult, and anyone who says it's easy is probably lying. I personally spend a lot of time wanting Jesus to appear. I'm coming to peace with that. But like the mysterious men in Acts remind us, we can't just stand and stare up at heaven all day hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus. There is work to be done, a charge to be followed. May God bless us in our work.
Lord Jesus, you've called us to follow you. Use our talents to better this world. Take our treasures and put them to use. Inspire our hearts to care for those around us so that our community may start to look a little more like your kingdom every day. Amen.
Rev. Kelly Staples, Associate Pastor, NorthPark Presbyterian Church