Ascension Day

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Ascension Day is on Thursday, May 29, forty days after Easter. Since it is always on a Thursday, and never a Sunday, the Church rarely pays much attention to this important day.  Scripture records an account of our Lord’s Ascension in Luke 24 and Acts 1.  In both places Jesus assigns the task of being witnesses to his followers. They were commanded to spread God’s Word “in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” How seriously do we take this responsibility today?

Notice they started at home, where they were. Then they went out to the area around their own community, then the surrounding territory, and finally to the ends of the earth.  If we followed their pattern, commanded by Jesus, we would start with our own home and community, then Kootenai County, the rest of North Idaho, and finally the far places in our world. We tend to turn the order around, and start with support of foreign missionaries, which is a good thing, especially after hearing the Snyders family report on their experience in Uganda.  But how effectively do we focus our witnessing at home and the surrounding area? It’s easier for most of us to give our dollars for others to be witnesses for us somewhere else.  But Jesus clearly says, “You are my witnesses!”

If we have negative connotations about witnessing for our faith, or think we’re not good enough to do it, or don’t know what we should say, Jesus covers the bases for us. In both Ascension accounts, Jesus tells his disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; power from on high.” Our Lord does not expect us to do his work on our own.  He equips us with the power we need to do what He wants us to do.  The Lord provides the gifts necessary for every task He calls us to do to accomplish his purposes; it’s the way we use those gifts and resources that makes the difference.

The disciples had to wait until Pentecost until the Holy Spirit manifested himself in them. Once that happened, however, it was obvious that the power of God was working through them; at least to all who believed their words.  Other non-believers scoffed and thought the disciples were drunk. Not everybody we share our faith with today will accept the truth of what we say either; that’s why it’s necessary to pray for unbelievers who have hearts of stone in our worship on Sunday mornings. It’s not our job to make believers; that’s the Holy Spirit’s responsibility.  But we are not excused from being witnesses.  So how are we doing with that?

It’s really not hard, especially since we have been given God’s Holy Spirit who is working in us. A comment here or there, an act of kindness, an invitation, an appropriate Bible verse; there are any number of ways we can be witnesses for Jesus. And in fact, Jesus says, we are his witnesses!  It just boils down to what kind of witnesses we are.  If we make an impact on other’s lives with our words and actions, with God’s Word, that’s all it takes.  The Ascension of our Lord doesn’t mean that He’s gone; He promises to be with us always! That’s the power of the Holy Spirit!

Pastor Kurt Wandrey

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