Reflection May 22, 2022 (Ascension Sunday)
Acts 1:1-11/ Psalm 93/ Ephesians 1:15-23
We’ve Got Work to Do!
Doctor Who Saving the World
A lot of you already know that I am a big fan of the British TV show Doctor Who. In that show, the Doctor is always trying to save the earth or some other planets from mass destruction, for there are a lot of evil creatures in the universe (of Doctor Who).
Sometimes, when the Doctor is working on opposing the enemies, some innocent people die. When the Doctor is accused of having no heart for not grieving for the dead, the response is always, “We don’t have time to grieve right now. We have to save the planet and its millions of residents first and then have time to grieve.”
We are celebrating today as Ascension Sunday because Ascension Day is this coming Thursday. The story of Jesus’ ascension can be summarized simply as follows: the resurrected Jesus spent more time with his disciples and taught them some more before ascending to heaven. The story itself seems simple, but there is a lot we can read between the lines.
The first main aspect that needs our attention is in verse 8: “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.”
According to the Acts of the Apostles, this is the last thing Jesus said to his disciples. The Holy Spirit will come and empower them to be his witnesses all over the world. His ultimate commandment to his followers was that they would be his witnesses, meaning that they would follow in his footsteps and continue the work that he started. His work in this mortal world was proclaiming God’s rule of love based on equality and justice.
Just like Jesus commanded his first disciples to be his witnesses all over the world, God is also commanding us to do the same.
The second aspect that needs our attention is the fact that the first disciples kept gazing up toward heaven where their teacher disappeared.
We know that we need time recovering after parting with someone we love, for example, when a loved one dies or when our relationship ends. The Doctor’s friends faced similar situations all the time. They want time to grieve for the dead. However, just like the Doctor’s friends on the TV show, we learn from this text that we are not to dwell on these melancholic moments.
Two messengers come to the disciples and say, “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” This is God snapping them out of their reverie, the melancholic and emotional moment, to divert their gaze and attention back to their world.
I remember from my life, when I finished a great book, concert, or movie, I had difficulty snapping out of the emotional space and back to reality. The concert is over, and I need to stand up and walk out to come home. But since it takes time to snap out of the mood, I am basically dragging my feet and body to move.
The important point of the ascension story is that, sooner or later, we have to snap out and face our reality; a society where injustice rules and people suffer. Disciples can’t afford to dwell in reverie or the past because they have work to do, commissioned by their teacher Jesus.
Ministry of God’s Reign
This work we are commissioned to continue is spreading God’s reign. We read from today’s psalm about God’s reign. God’s rule, or reign, is defined by the words majesty, strength, firm, and eternity. God’s reign that we learn from Jesus adds equity, love, and justice.
God’s reign is firm, strong, lasts for eternity, and is based on God’s love that shows no partiality. All God’s people are equally valuable and equally deserve dignity and respect. The reason why we can’t afford to dwell on the past or the fuzzy and lovey dovey feeling is because our reality is devoid of equality and justice. We’ve got a lot of work to do!
Firm Faith for God’s Work
To witness to the mighty, strong, and firm reign of God, we must be firm in our faith. Our goal is to be like the Ephesian Christians for whom Apostle Paul gave thanks.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians that we read today should be our prayer. We pray that God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation as we come to know him, so that, with the eyes of our heart enlightened, we may understand the hope for which Jesus has called us, and the immeasurable greatness of his power for us to believe, according to the working of his great power.
We’ve God Work to Do!
May we learn from Christ the wisdom to understand God’s reign and firm conviction of faith to dedicate our lives to bringing God’s reign of justice here on earth. Let us earnestly pray for faithfulness and strength.
Our work for God will be a long and hard journey, for there is so much evil of hate, greed, and injustice in our world. Listen to the commissioning of the disciples that ends the Gospel of Matthew:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In the knowledge that the Spirit of Christ will always be with us, let us keep our gaze forward. We’ve got a lot of work to do for God.