Risen, Ascended, and Glorified
The commissioning and sending out of the apostles, and the promise to them of the gift of the Holy Spirit, are Jesus’s words to those who follow him: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Then, St Luke describes Jesus’s Ascension as a physical event. It is comparable to the Ascension of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9). Elisha witnesses the Ascension of his master, Elijah, having been promised a double share of his master’s spirit. Similarly, the disciples look on as Jesus is taken and they receive the Holy Spirit from him at Pentecost.
The Book of Acts forms a kind of bridge between the Gospels and Epistles. It describes the way in which the Christian message spreads from the rural Palestinian world of Jesus to the largely urban world of Paul later in epistles, and then throughout the Roman Empire. Whereas the Gospels focus on Jesus, the Book of Acts may be said to focus on people talking about Jesus.
This spreading of the Good News about Jesus is possible because of the Ascension of Jesus and the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit to his followers. His followers are inspired by the Spirit of God to spread Good News about the Son of God: “And you will be my witnesses”. And they were amazing witnesses, witnessing “to the ends of the earth” and passing the task and privilege of sharing the faith on to those who came after them.
We, in our term, are all called to be witnesses. Let us recall the words of the Service of Confirmation: “Let your Holy Spirit rest upon them” and: “Let their delight be in the fear of the Lord” … “God has called you by name and made you his own”. As the first disciples were called and then sent out, so are we. Called by name, and called for a purpose. Called not only to be people who talk about Jesus, but also called to be people who live lives that point to Jesus.
With my love and prayers this Ascensiontide,