When the End is a Beginning

[The angels] said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

-Luke 10:29a

Dear friends,

There’s no record that Jesus told them the ascension was coming. The disciples stood there staring up into the clouds. “Now what?”

Jesus had lived among them, done miracles, healed the sick, raised the dead, and preached the good news to the poor, but his execution at the hands of Rome was an unexpected twist. His resurrection was an even bigger twist.

But here on the Mount of Olives, Jesus gathered the disciples around. Perhaps they thought, “Okay, so you’ve done the death thing, that was a twist; the resurrection thing was very much unexpected.” They ask, “NOW are you going to do the restoring-the-kingdom-to-Israel thing?”

And Jesus says, “Actually no,” and takes a cloud elevator into the sky, leaving the disciples staring up at the clouds “like a cow looking at a new gate,” as my dad would say.

Jesus wasn’t here, then he was born, then he died, then he was raised and was back, and now he’s gone again! What were they supposed to do now?

Before he left, he told the disciples to expect the Holy Spirit. The whole church project, which they didn’t even know was a thing they were going to be doing, was on them, but mostly on the Holy Spirit.

And when the Holy Spirit came, the church went from a few followers to thousands in a day. Prisoners were set free, those who had goods sold them to help everyone in need, the sick were healed, and the good news went forth in a way that it never would have before.

As we look at the cross and the ascension, it occurs to me that when it seems like God is gone, like it’s all over… something unbelievable may be just about to get started.


Rev. David M. Schell, pastor