Acts 1:1-11 starts the book of Acts that is actually part 2 of Luke. Acts is written by Luke and continues our epic story. Wait, did I hear you ask if the epic hero has defeated the epic villain by the death on the cross, then what is part 2 about? Exactly. After all is said and done, the disciples still do not quite get the big picture. We have the advantage of 2,000 years of living into this story as it unfolds but at that moment it would appear the followers of Jesus were just that, followers of Jesus. They were having to make a major course adjustment. They are still thinking that Jesus will defeat the Romans and restore Israel to its former glory under King David and King Solomon. They ask, “Is this the time?”
One of my favorite scenes at the end of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ is when the Jews are being forced to leave Anatefka, their home. One man turns to the rabbi and asks, “Rabbi would this not be a good time for the Messiah to come?” The Rabbi replies, “I guess we will have to wait for him elsewhere.” Our story is continuing to unfold is ways that were not anticipated by the participants in the story. I suspect it is like the Lamaz classes before my first child. They tried to teach me. They assured me it was not “pain” but “labor.” I listened and did the exercises but when I went to the hospital, then I understood. Jesus has explained but the future must be lived into.
Life takes many unexpected turns – hurricanes flood New York, fire is approaching South Lake Tahoe, children choose spouses we would not have chosen for them, a spouse has a stroke and suddenly we live into a future we did not anticipate. It is not for us to know the future, “to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” but one thing Jesus promised us: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you be my witnesses.” When we need the power to cope with life, at that time Jesus as the Holy Spirit will be walking with us enabling us. I do not need the power before but at the time. And our challenges will be meaningful, not random, so that we can witness to the reality of God’s presence in the world. Jesus was not abandoning his creation by ascending but assuming his Trinitarian identity to be able to be with us, though unseen. We are not alone for the Holy Spirit is with us and gives us power.
Floods, disease, displacement and grief are affecting so many today and we each have our own challenge facing us. Often we think of the Passion Week, the iteration of our epic story we are looking at now, as the cross experience Jesus went through for our sins. That is true but it is also true that the “passion” Jesus had was that the Kingdom of Heaven would be available to all. That is worth witnessing about! Blessings.