Today was Ascension Day. I let it almost get past without a blog post.
But, I couldn't quite let it pass.
Because Ascension is not on Sunday, most congregations don't hear the story of Jesus' ascension into heaven, how he took the disciples up to a mountain, promised them that they would received power, and then disappeared from view while they stood with their mouths open, looking up.
Maybe that's okay, because the story of the Ascension is a sort of odd story, if you think about it, especially if you think about it in a sort of 21st Century way. But, actually, it's hard to really consider Pentecost without Ascension.
We usually read the Ascension story on the 7th Sunday of Easter, and at the point where Jesus disappears, we pause, and someone extinguishes the paschal candle. There it has been, since Easter, while we've been reading all of those resurrection stories, Jesus walking around, showing us his hands and feet, going fishing, breaking bread. Now, 40 days later, that's history. We are not going to see Jesus any more.
There's something poignant about that, and about the disciples standing there looking up. The angels tell them to stop looking up, which everyone interprets as "start looking around for all the work that needs to be done." I don't think they are wrong.
But there's this other statement, that Jesus will return in the same way that he left. Maybe this is just me, but I don't think this is a reference to the Second Coming. It think it's about what is going to happen 10 days later, when the Holy Spirit falls on the disciples. Jesus' Spirit, in them, pushing them out into the world, farther and farther into the world.
Ascension Day is only the day we stopped seeing Jesus with our eyes. On Pentecost we began to see Jesus with the eyes of our hearts. And you never ever know where he might turn up.