A Reflection for the Sunday after Ascension
“Why do you stand here looking into the sky?”
Last Thursday was Ascension Day – the day when we remember Jesus leaving his disciples for the very last time and ascending into heaven. He has been with them for 40 days following his miraculous resurrection and they had spent time with him. They had investigated his wounded body to make sure he wasn’t a ghost or a figment of their grief-stricken imagination. They had eaten with him and they had continued to be taught by him.
Perhaps they thought that those forty days would continue for ever? But realism was to hit them and, after receiving their final instructions, Jesus disappeared from their sight. There is little wonder that they were puzzled and spent time gazing up into the sky, perhaps expecting Jesus to come back.
And then, there came those two men dressed in white standing beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
“Why do you stand looking into the sky when there is work to be done, just get on with it!” is perhaps what those two mysterious characters were really saying.
“Just get on with it” and that is what they did. They returned to Jerusalem and Peter announced that it was necessary to replace Judas Iscariot who had committed suicide. It was necessary, he said, to choose one of the men who have been with them the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among them, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from them. So, they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that the season of Ascension coincides with the season of churches AGM’s when we tend to reflect on the past year. We do “cast lots” to see who will be the various officers for the coming year but perhaps we are not too hot on speaking about or planning for the coming year.
Perhaps those two men in white have something to say to us too, ““Why do you stand looking into the sky when there is work to be done, just get on with it!”