What do we do now?

12 May, 2024 Ascension Year B

Imagine how many times, through their days living with and following the Lord, that the disciples found themselves dumbstruck. His teaching fell on them like thunder. Parables, like mysterious worlds, snapped and popped about, opening new, wonderful, bottomless points of view.

 

And his symbolic actions! He cursed the fig tree. He forgave sins. He woke up in the boat and rebuked the storm. He marched right into the temple and, like a whirlwind, drove out the moneychangers.

 

And, of course, there were the miracles! He touched and healed lepers, the infirm, the blind from birth. He turned water into wine. He walked on water. He even raised a man from the dead!

 

And all of this was like a plane on a runway, gathering speed, faster, faster, to go … where? To the cross! The man died. The spear went into His side. They saw his blood spill. They saw His naked body hanging lifelessly from the wood. They saw him taken down and placed into the earth. They were certainly confused then: the whole movement, the whole world-changing, upside-down, inside-out revolution he started ends in total defeat?

 

Of course, from our place in the long line of heirs to this story, we know it’s not over: on the third day He returns from death. Reading or hearing the story ourselves, we can almost taste the mixture of confusion with unutterable joy and amazement that drenches the page.

 

And there’s more. He is with them, from that first Easter morning, for forty glorious and strange days, days beyond comprehension, where time and space were surely refigured around his presence—heaven, as they say, on earth. There’s little said about this time, but, yes, it’s strange: they struggle to recognise him. He appears and disappears. He passes through locked doors. He eats fish. He breaks through Thomas’ doubt: ‘Here, put your hand in my wounded side!’ He reconciles and recommissions Peter: ‘Feed my sheep!’

 

And you can just as palpably taste the disciples’ wondered confusion now at His ascension. Before their very eyes he passes on into the heavenly realm, the cloud of glory hiding him from their sight. He suffered, died, descended to hell, and returned—and wait, he now leaves for heaven? The story has been strange all along. But three of the gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—end with this event.

 

‘And what do we do now?’ You can almost hear the disciples saying to themselves. In the gospel story that is exactly the question we, who also believe, are supposed to ask. The Lord ascended to heaven, to the place of all authority. He, that man, Jesus of Nazareth, sits on the divine throne. And it’s still not over. The rest of the story includes us. It includes all creation. It’s still being written!

 

Our question today is the same as the disciples’ then: ‘What do we do now?’ Keep reading, keep listening, to find out.

 

W Chris Hackett

© Majellan Media 2024

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