In-between times are some of the most dynamic times. In-between the proposal and the wedding lots of planning and dreaming occurs. Colors for the wedding, dresses, invitations are all chosen. In-between conception and birth lots of growth and dreaming takes place. Names are talked about, cribs organized, and friends informed. In-between graduation and a job, lots of worry and dreaming takes place. Resumes are sent out and job applications filled out. Last Thursday, Jesus ascended, returned to his pre-incarnate existence in heaven, promising to return. In-between the Ascension last Thursday and Pentecost this coming Sunday when the followers were waiting in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit, what happened? Luke writes to his friend Theophilus another letter that continued on from Luke’s gospel and that gives us a peek.
We have the advantage of two centuries but these first followers were still sorting out what was going on. They had questions. Between times are not voids but opportunities for creative thinking and planning. One of the first questions the followers asked was, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6)” That seems to me to be the question, “What is life going to look like now?” Moving from one country to another involves learning a whole new lifestyle. In the same way moving from Jew to Christian was a transition. Choosing to believe in the risen Christ involves a change in lifestyle even today. Perhaps our question is not about restoring Israel but we do need to reorient ourselves from the kingdom of “me” to living in the kingdom of “God.” The rules are different. We learn to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength and learn to love our neighbor as ourselves. We learn to pray. We learn new music. For some it means breaking old bad habits and addictions to what we eat and do.
Is life after the risen Christ going to be about restoring a political kingdom, a social kingdom, or a physical kingdom that we will all become citizens of? Jesus says that is not for us to know. And so we have people today focused on social justice for all and we have people focused on piety. How do we spend the time between faith and heaven? It is not an either or question but a both-and. How might I improve my faith walk this week and how may I improve the life of those I encounter? Both require faith and love and an awareness of Jesus who promises to walk with us.