This article is based on a sermon given on the Sunday after Ascension Day in 2015 Sunday May 17th
Whooosh! Just like that! Like a rocket, Zoooomm, that’s how he went!
Better than any fireworks I’ve ever seen! Wheeeee!
And we were watching to see where he was going when a cloud came across, and, well, that was it. Gone. Ascended.
I didn’t want him to go. He’d already left us once, and that was awful. We just didn’t know what to do with ourselves, we moped around, fearful for our lives, fearful for our sanity. I mean, he was our hope, we’d left everything for him. And he had promised that he would never leave us or forsake us. So when he died, what did that mean? Wasn’t he who we thought he was? Was he a fake or a fool, or even a fiend?
So many questions so many doubts.
We needed him, he was showing us the way, the way to be human, to live without the legalism of the Pharisees or the rule or the Romans. But it was just those things, the rules and the rule, which caused his death. I just didn’t understand.
Then he came back. He came back! Who has ever come back from the dead! (Well, except Lazarus, and that little girl, and… er, well, perhaps I should have trusted him a bit more.) Anyway he rose again just like he said he would. And he gave us convincing proofs he was alive, showing us his wounds and eating fish and everything! I mean, ghosts don’t eat fish, do they?
And he spoke to us about the Kingdom of God, and it all started to make sense, all that stuff we’d heard before but hadn’t really grasped until, well, until he’d died I guess.
One time when we were eating he said “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.”
I got all excited and said “Lord, Lord are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom of Israel?”
He looked at me, you know the look, it was his look which I knew meant
“you haven’t quite got it yet, have you?”
I’m getting used to that look.
Then he said “It’s not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set for his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Whoooosh! Zoooooom! Gone! Ascended. Before I’d even had chance to ask him what he was going on about. And we are all standing there looking up into the sky like a load of ninnies, when we hear a voice:
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky?” Fair question I guess. They must not have seen the Whooosh! But now I think about it they did look pretty amazing themselves, all white and shiny, like people from heaven.
Then they said “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 looked down at my watch and was about to ask if they could give an estimated time of Jesus returning, when they disappeared as well!
It was one of those days, the sort of days you have, when you are around Jesus…
So anyway here we are back in Jerusalem. We are praying and waiting, waiting and praying, nothing wrong with that, its what he’s told us we should do…
and I can’t say I’m not excited about the coming of the ‘Holy Spirit’, whatever that might be.
But to be honest I’d rather Jesus came back himself. I need him. No one knows me like he does. No one shows me God like he does.
But I guess even more than I need him, the world needs him.
You need him,
God’s Kingdom needs to come to this world, God’s Kingdom needs to be this world –
Jesus is the only one to do it, I really believe that.
Ok he was pretty impressive, But I am worried that on his own Jesus wouldn’t be enough, it’s like we need God to give us not only Jesus, but another 100 or 1000 sons just like him, doing his work, going around and sharing his love and telling people about Gods Kingdom.
That it, we’re here, we need all of us, you know, just to be like Jesus, doing the same as he did, teaching, caring, loving, mmmmm then there is the healing, the miracles I still reckon we can do it, but we might need a bit of help………
Malcolm Guite is a poet and singer-songwriter, priest, chaplain, teacher and author. He wrote this sonnet based on Acts :
We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we ourselves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .