Dear Friends –
In a matter of forty days the fledgling church was bombarded by a stream of shocking surprises. First, Jesus is crucified! Then, Jesus is risen from the dead! Next, Jesus appears to his disciples! And, finally, Jesus is gone again - this time for good!
The church calendar calls today Ascension Day. Forty days after Easter Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts 1) where, in the words of the Apostle’s Creed, he “sits at the right hand of the Father.” The Ascension is Scripture’s way of saying, Jesus reigns! - not a bad thing to remember as the presidential political season roils around us.
Just before ascending, Jesus tells his disciples to wait for the promised Holy Spirit. But it will be another ten whole days before Pentecost comes – another surprise?
So, have you ever wondered why the wait? Or, can you imagine what those ten days were like?
Did the disciples feel bereft, awash in grief? Lost without their Lord so near, and that Holy-what-ever-he-was-talking about taking his/her (the noun “spirit” is feminine)/it’s sweet time arriving?
Or were they filled with anticipation – kind of like Christmas, when you are hyped on sugar and tormented by giddiness as you anticipate ripping through that Mount Everest of presents?
Or were they straight up bored, twiddling their thumbs?
One thing we know for sure is that when Peter gathered the disciples together he put them to work finding a leader to replace Judas Iscariot. There were two nominees, so they all prayed, and then, um, cast lots – meaning they threw the dice, or picked straws (not exactly a democratic, much less “spiritual”, practice!) So a guy we never heard of before, Matthias, won. But I can’t help but wonder if they jumped the gun, though – because we’ve never heard about him since, either!
So back to the wait…why the wait? What if waiting can be a profound act of faith?
Of course we know that the Holy Spirit does come, and the Holy Spirit is the one who keeps alive God’s purposes and brings God’s life-giving power to the church. But as one writer notes, whenever God’s purposes seem empty or God’s power seems absent (it happens now and then!), at these times “we serve God best by waiting...” Those ten days reminds us that “the God of all time acts in God’s own time” and “sometimes we just need to wait, sit, and be.”
Learning to wait with you,