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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 24:44–53

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (NRSV)

Reflection
The Ascension of Jesus makes way for the descending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is a pivotal moment in the story of Jesus and his disciples who become the church. Their overwhelming joy in this moment when Jesus is leaving them really strikes me. If I imagine myself in the moment, I wonder, ”Wouldn’t I feel a little bit sad? Or maybe afraid about what the unknown future might hold?”

But the disciples seem to know and trust that what comes next is going to work out; it’s going to be OK. Maybe they can embrace this transition with trust because they have so recently been through the trauma of witnessing the crucifixion, then the terror of finding the tomb empty, and the shock of encountering Jesus in resurrected form.

What a rollercoaster of emotion they have been on. It would seem that reality itself has been shifting to and fro. He’s the messiah! No, he’s executed as a criminal! He’s dead and gone. No, he’s resurrected and leading and loving us still!

Having gone through the most difficult times, having experienced grief and terror and shock then joy, the disciples receive Jesus’ blessing, trusting that more is to come. They can wait for the Holy Spirit; they can wait for the heavenly power to descend; they can let go of Jesus as they have known him, trusting that they will continue to experience him, and God, in new ways. They have not been abandoned, and they never will be. 

Prayer
Gracious and loving God, pour out your Holy Spirit on me and on all your creation. Help me to trust that you are with me now and always will be. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry


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