[Today, May 14th, is the day the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated. I decided, when I saw it listed, to post something extra today. The other passages the Revised Common Lectionary notes for this day are Acts 1:1-11 and Psalms 47 & 93, if you want to look at them.]
“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24: 44-49)
Stay where it is safe until you are made ready to go forth and do ministry. That is the idea of seminary; that it is a nurturing environment where one can learn about doing ministry, staying fresh and focused for ministry, and learn how to discern a calling for ministry for self and others.
I was thinking about this just today, reflecting on what I wrote yesterday and what I chose to highlight in the scripture passage that I used yesterday. There was much more in those verses than I specifically addressed. There was a time when I tried to encompass too much spiritual and faith issues in my writings. Now I know it is better to focus on a small part than try to cover “too much ground.”
Even once someone has graduated from seminary, the learning through the Spirit continues.
“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” (Verses 50-53)
I have often imaged what that day must have been like. Surely a warm day, with few clouds in the sky, the sun shining and birds twittering in the branches of trees. A peaceful pastoral (if you will) scene. Jesus lifted up and then disappearing against the blue of the sky. What began peacefully in a stable ended just as peacefully on that day. But in-between, the whole world changed.
“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15-16)
I like to imagine that Paul wrote this to me; I know I have been hard on him over the years. But I have never doubted his care and commitment for the people he wrote to and ministered to. And I like to pass on this sentiment and blessing to people that I know, people such as you beloved reader.
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.” (Verses 17-19)
These types of blessing are prayed through the Holy Spirit who comes to all believers in some way or another. The Spirit knows what each one of us needs, and waits oh so patiently for us to ask for these blessings and gifts.
“God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Verses 20-23)
All this stands in readiness for us, beloved reader. We need but ask for it. It may seem that when Jesus left the earth for heaven, a tremendous gap was left. But that is not the cause at all. What had its beginnings on earth continues in heaven. And that brings us back to verse 17, the prayer that the writer of Ephesians prayed, and that I pray. May it be so . . . Selah!