This past Sunday, the Feast of the Ascension was celebrated in churches throughout the world. SPO Mission Leader Stephen Duraney offers his reflections on this feast.
“And behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” These were Christ's last words in the Gospel of Matthew as he was lifted up from Mt. Bethany and ascended to the right hand of the Father. As Christians we are inclined to ask, what purpose does the Ascension serve? Was the Resurrection not already a total victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil? What strange plan does Jesus' “leaving” accomplish?
And why are the disciples filled with joy to see their Master borne away from them as Luke accounts: “While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24 50-53).
The answer, I believe, is that Christ did not truly leave the disciples; He has never left us. In Word and Sacrament Christ is alongside us each day, and makes His dwelling within us, if we so allow Him. Instead of a stagnant period between Christ's Resurrection and Final Coming, we should view our place in history with the same joy and excitement the newly commissioned disciples show. They had been tasked with the impossible, to make disciples of all the nations, and by faith they trusted in the power and authority of God to accomplish this through them!
One of the unique callings of Saint Paul's Outreach as a ministry is to pray and respond to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was promised to the early church and continues to occur in our times. We truly believe that without this “power from on high” any human planning, ingenuity, or hard work would be purposeless. This outpouring is sometimes as dramatic and powerful as the Pentecost account in the book of Acts, and sometime it is a simple and humble “yes” given by a college student to enter a bible study or come to a Men's or Women's night.
-submitted by Stephen Duraney, Mission Leader
Icons courtesy ofwww.eikonografos.comused with permission
Content was inspired by the blog:http://robertaconnor.blogspot.com/