Ascension – yet another new normal!

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Bible Passages: Acts 1: 9-11

This week’s bible passage follows straight on from the one we read last week where Jesus promises that he will send the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus has been telling them for a while that he would be going away but I’m guessing they were expecting it to be on a donkey or walking and they would be able to wave goodbye and watch him go.  Instead, he barely finishes his sentence and starts floating upwards.  Can you imagine?  And if that isn’t enough, suddenly they are joined by two ‘men dressed in white’, who appear out of nowhere and ask them why they are staring up into the sky.

Where else would they be looking??  

It’s not normal stuff, is it?

Let’s face it.  For the last three years, they have been encountering odd things, miraculous things, almost ridiculous things so maybe they should have been expecting it but you don’t, do you?  We see it time and time again in the New Testament that the disciples have just watched Jesus do something incredible and the next second are arguing about the mundane having almost forgotten what they have just watched and we constantly do the same.  We recognise a wonderful answer to prayer, thank God for it and promptly forget it and begin to doubt his love and care for us and his power to do and change things. 

The fact is, when they left their old lives to follow Jesus, they had to get used to a ‘new normal’ and now Jesus has left them and gone into heaven and they are going to have to get used to another.

I said last week that we were in a similar position to the disciples stuck in between Easter and Pentecost and here we see it again.  

10 weeks ago (or is it 7 or 9 months or 25 years….I can’t remember!) we were asked to get used to a new normal.  Life had to change in order to keep us all safe and we were powerless to stop it so have just had to get used to it and manage as best we can.  I have heard stories of people thriving in this time but for most of us, managing is as good as it gets.  

Now, things are beginning to change again and the ‘new normal’ is no longer the new normal and even bigger changes are coming though we have yet to find out the what, how or when of those new changes.  

How can we cope? 

How did the disciples cope?  What was it that made them put one foot in front of the other day by day whilst they were waiting for the Holy Spirit to come and give them power for the next stage of their journey?

As I have considered that this week, two things have been brought to mind.  

  1. They remembered what had gone before
  2. They looked forward to what was promised

I’ve already commented on the fact that they experienced a lot of new, different and wonderful things following on from when they met Jesus.  Encountering Jesus changed their lives in ways they would never have expected.  They would have been able to compare their life before Jesus to their life afterward and see the change that he had made.  They would have considered all the things he had said and done and started to make sense of some of them in the light of what had happened over the last weeks of his time of earth.  They would have thought of the teaching they had grown up with and seen some of it in a new light as they realised that Jesus had fulfilled so much of what was promised.  They would have spent time considering those promises alongside all of the others in Scripture recognising that God had been utterly faithful to them in the past and would continue to be so.  

And then they would have thought about what was coming next.  Who was this Holy Spirit who was coming to give them power and authority and enable them to do all that Jesus had told them they would be doing.  They would have spoken with each other about it and pondered what life was going to be like once he had come.  

As we are stuck between what used to be, what currently is and what is coming next, we can learn from this.  We can remember what has gone before.  Not just recognising the faithfulness of God in our own lives but throughout history.  We can consider all that He has done for us and in us and through us and then we can look forward to what he is going to do next.  

Lord I lift Your name on high
Lord I love to sing Your praises
I’m so glad Your in my life
I’m so glad You came to save us

You came from heaven to earth 
To show the way
From the earth to the cross 
My debt to pay
From the cross to the grave 
From the grave to the sky
Lord I lift Your name on high