From Reverend Pat Kriss: The Ascension and the Challenges of 'The In-Between'
(Posted May 12, 2018)
Today is celebrated in many Christian denominations as Ascension Day – the Thursday when, tradition tells the early Christians, that Jesus left this earth, heaven-bound to God the Creator. It’s no small wonder that this Sunday’s gospel focuses on those last words Christ spoke before he initiated “lift-off.”
Imagine, if you will, being one of the disciples on the mountaintop watching Jesus soaring up, only his feet in sight, until they couldn’t see him at all. And their first question must have been, “NOW WHAT?”
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Now what? We’ve had all the instruction we could possibly want. We’ve been told that, in a while, Jesus will send us someone to guide us. But…. seriously. Now what? What do we do in the in-between time?What’s amazing to us is that things still are in the in-between time. This Sunday we read as Jesus prays to God for us, telling God how he has prepared us for lives of love and peace seeking. But he acknowledges that living these kinds of lives have made the disciples hated by those who get no percentage out of things being peaceful. It’s the same today. As Christians we know how we’re supposed to act, but even if we’re living up to God’s expectations, it doesn’t seem as if what we’re doing changes this confused and violent world. We’ve had a resurrection, and STILL there is hatred. We’ve walked with God himself, and STILL people seek to destroy one another. How are we to trust that things will turn out all right? How are we to trust that we are doing this thing called “life” right?
The truth is, we are surrounded at all times, especially the significant times, with the challenges of “the in-between.” It’s ironic that this Sunday is also Mother’s Day, because there is no state in life more fraught with dealing with “the in-Between” than motherhood. Moms endure 9 months of uncertainty and concern for that little one they haven’t even met. All they can do is “do the right thing.” And after the birth? There is that LONG period of uncertainty that mothers know as “raising a child.” Now what? Am I doing it right? There’s no instruction manual with this kid! Of course, there actually IS an instruction “manual,” and its name is Faith, and the words are written in invisible ink, until each of us views our faith through the lens of Trust. That long-awaited guide for the in-between period, the Holy Spirit, is present to us in all times of uncertainty as the whispered voice of Wisdom, saying as Jesus did, “Peace Be With You.” As we head into this season of Pentecost, more than ever we need to listen to that voice of Wisdom. Join us this Sunday as we sail on those wings of change. --- Pastor Pat Kriss