But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside
They said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing there
looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into
(from Acts 1:1-11)
Here’s a little
experiment for this week: See if you can notice how many times you
or someone you’re with looks up to the sky. We do it when we are
impatient. We do it when we are frustrated. We do it when we are
weak...tired…sad…lonely…name a negative emotion, and you’ll see
people—whether they believe in God or not—cast their eyes skyward.
Of course, people of faith do the same thing when they are grateful
or praising God, but that’s usually a more conscious action.
I can’t imagine how
often the first disciples intentionally looked up into the heavens,
hoping and praying that today would be the day when Jesus would
return. As the months and years went on without any indication of
Christ’s imminent arrival, how frustrating and disheartening it must
have been. Yet they persevered, living their out their faith in the
promise, keeping their eyes focused on creating fertile ground for
Living the Word…
Two thousand years
have passed, and still we persevere. Yes, skeptics likely look
askance at our faith. Yes, we may still look to the heavens and pray
for Christ’s arrival, but as Christians, we know that if we only
look up to await the Kingdom, we miss Christ’s presence alive and
among us. But more importantly, we also miss opportunities to foster
growth in faith through the love and compassion we offer to others.
The Book of
Revelations predicts an epic battle between good and evil, maybe
frightening some people into belief. But I wonder: is God, like an
infinitely patient parent, just waiting for humanity to learn what
makes for peace for ourselves? Perhaps Christ will finally return
when the seeds he planted as he walked the earth are ready to burst
into bloom in the fertile soil we’ve fed by our faith, our hope, and
What will you do
today to nurture the growth of the Kingdom?
29: God arises; his enemies
are scattered, and those who hate him flee before him. As smoke is
driven away, so are they driven; as wax melts before the fire.
arises, like fire before both his enemies and the just. Will we be
like silver tested and purified by the fire through our faith in
God’s mercy (Ps 66) , or will we melt away, not because we are evil
or due to our sins, but because we lack faith in God’s salvation? We
are tested by fires and trials throughout our lives. Some fires we
set for ourselves, but many are due to our human condition. Let us
face those fires with our faith in God intact, to become ever
stronger for the trials that lay ahead.
30: "I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out
of the world…I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for
the ones you have given me…”
(Jn 17: 1-11)
time this passage comes up, I think, “You really need to deal with
this at some point.” Jesus’s words, “I do not pray for the world,”
bother me, and seem contradictory to his words in Luke 6 about
loving those who don’t love you. Isn’t it “the world” for which we
really should be praying? Jesus is not dismissing creation or all of
God’s children. The Greek word, “kocmoy,” derived from “kosmos,”
translates to “system.” Jesus prays his disciples will be protected
from the evils of the world in which they are called to witness. A
few verses later, Jesus prays for all who will be brought to him
through the disciples. Being “in the world, but not of the world” is
hard work. If we are to witness, if we are to work to change the
unjust and evil systems that exist, we need all the prayers we can
get! Each day, as you go out in Chris’s name, ask him to pray for
you as well.
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a
town of Judah…and greeted Elizabeth.
Mary sets out right away to tend to
her elderly cousin Elizabeth who is in the final trimester of
pregnancy. Mary’s first instinct is to care. When Elizabeth hears
her greeting, she acknowledges the miracle happening to Mary.
Imagine the peace that greeting brought to Mary, to know there is
someone with whom she can share what she is experiencing! We are
often ready to reach out to others, but hesitant when another offers
to care for us. If this sounds like you, remember this beautiful
example of mutual caring and support between Elizabeth and Mary.
Allow others the gift of caring for you.
“Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where
I am they also may be with me.”
(Jn 17: 20-26)
Jesus is referring not only to the Apostles, but to all “who will
believe in me through their word.” It’s often hard for me to imagine
Jesus thinking of me as “a gift,” and yet that is what we are called
to be. As gifts, we are to be opened and used to bring joy. Be a
gift to Jesus today. Open up and bring joy to those you meet.
2: As far as the east is from the
west, so far has he put our transgressions from us. (Ps 103)
know this. We proclaim Christ died for the sins of humanity. But do
we really believe it in our hearts, about our own sinfulness? I meet
many people who keep their sins closely tucked away, never far from
reach, so they can bring them out to suffer for the same
transgression over and over. This is not what God wants from us or
for us. That’s why he chose to become one of us. Are our sins part
of what makes us who we are? Yes, but they don’t define our lives
unless we let them. We are so much more than the worst thing we’ve
ever done. If we let sinfulness define who we are, we discount the
sacrifice Christ made on our behalf. Acknowledge, atone, learn,
repent, and move on. “It is not so much where we’ve been or where
we are, but in what direction we are moving.” (Adapted, Oliver
3: There are also
many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described
individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written. (Jn
Oooh, don’t you just wish John had
written a sequel! He ends his gospel with the perfect “teaser” for
the next in the series. But he didn’t write any more about Christ’s
life. Perhaps he understood that those who followed would be the
ones to share their stories. We are the present-day
evangelists, the ones called to document, by our words and actions,
the many things Jesus has done and continues to do in our lives. Do
you keep a journal of your “Jesus stories?” I think John is right:
If we were to write down all the things Jesus does for all the
people in the world, we could scarcely contain the joy. But that
doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!