21st May 2020

The Missing Day?

“After he had said this, he was taken up as they were watching and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen him going into heaven.’”
Acts 1:9-11 (CSB)

As Christians we celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pentecost every year knowing the importance of these milestones in our faith. So is there a missing day in our Christian calendar? Yes and No, because some churches do celebrate it but many do not. Yet it has an important meaning for all Christians. So what are we talking about? Ascension Day, which takes place 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit. It was the end of Christ’s physical earthly ministry. We are not commanded to observe the day but we can learn important lessons from thinking about it.

The first is Jesus’ command to the disciples to stay in Jerusalem, the lesson for us being that we have to wait and trust God in our lives (Acts 1:4). How much do we long for Christ’s return knowing the world is in desperate need, how much do we pray for it, yet it has not happened yet? Only God knows when the time is right for that awesome event and the same applies in our daily lives. So often we want something and we want it now, but we have to learn trust and have patience just as those disciples did. The disciples were also impatient through lacking understanding, because they asked him if now was the time he would restore the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6). We may be impatient for healing, a financial blessing, deliverance from a trial, marriage, the birth of a child, but so often the answer is ‘wait’.

The second key lesson is what it tells us about Christ’s return. Elsewhere in the Bible we are warned to beware of false Messiahs and false prophets even if they do great signs and wonders (Matthew 24:23-24). Yet we need have no fear of being deceived because Jesus will return the same way he ascended, from the sky, clearly visible. We are told the disciples stood there gazing up into the sky until they were reminded they had a job to do. We too have a job to do as reflectors of the light of Christ to all the people we meet in this world. That may be as simple as sharing a smile, praying for someone or helping a person in some way. We can never know how God will use us to brighten someone else’s life.

The third lesson is that without Ascension Day, there would be no Pentecost. That is a reminder that God’s thoughts are far above ours; that God has planned and prepared for a future which humanity cannot even dream of. The disciples had to wait 10 days for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on them in a powerful and visible way. We may have to wait our entire lifetime and beyond, for the return of Jesus Christ. But Ascension Day and Pentecost show us that God has a perfect plan to redeem humanity and not just Christians—Christ died for all (1 Timothy 2:5).

Gracious, loving father, help us to learn the lessons of Ascension day, to learn trust and patience, to learn to be focused on our job reflecting the light of Christ to all the people we meet and to know with complete confidence your plan for all humanity, assured that we shall clearly see the return of Jesus, in whose name we pray.

Study by Keith Hartrick

About the Author:
Keith Hartrick is an Elder in Grace Communion Church – Leeds.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion – Leeds
Garden Village Welfare Association Community Centre
Pendas Way
LS15 8LE

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2PM

Local Congregational Contact:
Malcolm Arnold
Phone: 01484-312347
Email: leeds@gracecom.church

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