Walking in Jesus' Footprints
(Posted May 12, 2021)
For those of us who belong to a reformed Protestant church, we don’t often focus on that part of the New Testament that tells us about the day Jesus left the disciples –- Ascension Day.
It’s strange that we sidestep this topic because, for the weeks that have elapsed since Easter, Jesus has been preparing the disciples for that very moment, repeating all the key aspects of what he’d been teaching. He’s been speaking to them the way you may remember your high school teachers used to teach in the weeks leading up to final exams. “Graduation Day” is, indeed, coming. Pay attention.
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This Sunday we’ll be going there, back to what tradition tells us was a Thursday, standing on the same hillside in Bethany, watching Jesus soar upward, back to God, his Source. There is something about this moment in the Jesus Journey that is awkward when artists try to depict it. Some pictures are filled with billowing clouds and robes. But very often the paintings can be somewhat comical when they show only Jesus’ feet sticking out of those clouds – making us think about pedicures. However, there’s something else that some artists wisely include in their pictures of the Ascension. If we look carefully, we may see that, below him on the earth, Jesus has left footprints. Visual symbols of his impact on the world, and perhaps the place where all of us followers need to start our own journeys like Dorothy did: “Follow the yellow brick road.”
The thing we all need to admit is that, like the disciples on that hill, we feel left alone, orphaned in a world that today is still as twisted and self-absorbed as it was then. Jesus said he was coming right back. Where is he? Who will take care of us now? Where’s Waldo? Can we pick him out of a crowd? This Sunday will feature a baptism, so we’ll explore what the lesson in the Gospel is for this little toddler -- and for all of us.