Last Thursday we celebrated Ascension Day where we remember that Jesus Christ ascended to heaven where he sits at God's right hand (a position of power, in fact, ALL power and authority - Matthew 28).
We took a short journey to Zeeland Christian Hill to imagine being on a hill like the disciples were and watching Jesus ascend. The powerful visual this gave our group was to be aware that we were outside in a public place. Life was going on all around us. There was a baseball game going on as well as la cross practice and soccer practice. A neighbor had a chain saw going cutting down some brush. You could hear the hum of cars passing by on the high-way. Life was happening, yet we were standing together listening to Scripture and praying for each other.
It opened our eyes to be more aware that Jesus ministry took place where EVERYDAY life was occurring. We recognized that we often 'do' church in a building closed to the activity of the world around us. Jesus ascension is critical to the Gospel message. Jesus shared it was for our benefit that he must go to the Father so that the promised gift of the Holy Spirit could be sent. We were given the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we could be about Jesus mission.
Jesus shared in Acts 1 these words about the mission he was giving us:
"On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 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.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
This coming Sunday we celebrate Pentecost - the pouring out of this promised gift - the Holy Spirit to the believers in Jesus Christ. May we come with expectation and joyful celebration this Sunday as remember this special day when God's Spirit was given to us. May we be encouraged and empowered to GO and be HIS witnesses in Zeeland, West Michigan, our nation and to the ends of the earth.