Dear Friends in Christ,
Jesus led his disciples to the town of Bethany and blessed them. Then he withdrew from them, says Luke, and “was carried up into heaven”.
The Ascension is celebrated Thursday and the 50-day season of Easter ends Sunday. May 23 is the Festival of Pentecost and Bishop Candea will be with us for the installation. On Pentecost you are encouraged to wear Jayhawk RED.
The Ascension represents the conclusion of the earthly ministry of Jesus. To understand this passage, theologians help us look at what led up to the ascension. Jesus appears to his disciples and to others in Jerusalem. We know the story of the resurrection, and how Jesus reveals himself to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus. He then appears to the disciples in Jerusalem, and at first they think he is a ghost. But Jesus says, “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and blood as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). Then he asks them for some food. They give him a piece of broiled fish, and he takes it and eats it in their presence (vv. 41-43). “While this might seem like an odd or humorous action,” says Professor Henrich, the people of the first century “would have recognized it as proof that Jesus was no disembodied spirit.”
Jesus “opens the minds” of his followers to understand their mission. He knows that he has limited time between the day of resurrection and the day of the ascension, so he stresses that “everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled” (v. 44). Jesus presents himself as the word of God in human form, the one who completes everything that God began to say through the law, the prophets and the psalms. But Jesus knows that this is a lot for people to absorb — not only for the disciples, but for us as well. So Jesus “opens their minds” to understand the Scriptures (v. 45). Jesus gives them the gift of understanding, so they can better comprehend what God has been doing, from ancient times through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
As always you are encouraged to read the appointed readings before worship:
MAY 13, The Ascension of our Lord (no formal worship service) Acts 1:1-11: Jesus sends the apostles Psalm 47: God has gone up with a shout. (Ps. 47:5) Ephesians 1:15-23: Eyes to see the risen and ascended Christ Luke 24:44-53: Christ present in all times and places
MAY 16, the 7th Sunday of Easter Acts 1:15-17, 21-26: Matthias added to the apostles Psalm 1: The Lord knows the way of the righteous. (Ps. 1:6) 1 John 5:9-13: Life in the Son of God John 17:6-19: Christ’s prayer for his disciples
MAY 23, Pentecost (wear RED)
Acts 2:1-21: Filled with the Spirit to tell God’s deeds
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b: Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:30)
Romans 8:22-27: Praying with the Spirit
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15: Christ sends the Spirit of truth
Jeffery Alvestad, Pastor