During these weeks between Easter and Pentecost we have had a chance to reflect on the difference that Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension make on our lives. We have read from the Book of Acts during these weeks and have seen how the early church struggled and survived during its first critical days. This early Christian community was mission-minded, wanting to go out immediately to tell others the good news. But Acts begins with a strange message by the risen Christ to his disciples. He tells them to wait.
This had to be another upheaval of emotions for the disciples. They had just gone through some tough times: seeing their Lord and Master betrayed, arrested and executed, bringing them to the edge of despair. They had heard from others that He indeed had risen, but still they doubted and were afraid. Then finally they experienced His risen presence for themselves in utter joy. They felt that they were now ready to get on with the business of proclaiming the Good News.
Instead they are told to "wait for the promise of the Father."
In reality, they weren't yet ready to go off spreading the news of his resurrection. They were a small, fearful community that had no power on its own. As the Gospels often remind us, these first followers of Jesus always had a tendency to get his message all wrong. What's more, when things got tough, they locked themselves in the upper room and went into hiding.
We are not so different from them at all – especially now.
The disciples are told - as are we - to stop a moment, take a breath, and wait for God' promise to be fulfilled. And it's a difficult lesson to learn that this will come at God's timing, not our own. The Risen Lord wants them to break free of their limited view, their prejudices and tendency to misinterpret the meaning of his life. They will, he says, have to be, "my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." But they will need help. So they must acknowledge their dependence on God and wait - patiently and hopefully.
We, too, are to be witnesses to Jesus by the integrity of our lives and our commitment to his Gospel. And, like the first disciples, we need to wait for the gift of the Spirit who sustains us when the going gets rough.
Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure. But as we celebrate the Ascension and anticipate the gift of the Spirit on Pentecost, Jesus' words take on an additional meaning.
In the awareness of our own need, we are primed for Pentecost when we will be renewed in the Spirit, who energizes us once more to live a life based on the truth of Jesus - who he is for us and who he is for the world and the results can be far more powerful than we could ever imagine.
The Ascension story is a mission given to us. Pentecost is our rebirth, the driving force of all our activity,
It’s worth the wait.