Sunday Readings: Acts 1.1-11;Ephesians 1.17-23; Mark 16.15-20
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” – John 16.15
“Why do you stand looking into the heaven?” – Acts 1.11
Up is where God is in the ancient world. Up still represents the top rung. The ladder of success goes up. The view of Earth from space, however, has forced us to revise our images of the heavens as God’s home and throne.
When I visited the site of Jesus’ ascension in Israel, the guide pointed out a rock with two side-by-side swirls that looked a little like footprints. When I saw the rock, I remembered reading about it as a child and accepting as real that Jesus would leave his footprints in a rock when he returned to God. Did I think Jesus blasted off with foot rockets to leave such molten footprints? Until the early teen years,all of us have only concrete brain operations. We can only take stories literally as I did.
The gospel writer Luke draws on how people saw the world in Jesus’ time. In ancient Mesopotamia people imagined God lived in the heavens, commanding storms and hosts of heavenly beings, a divine army. Luke pictures Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, returning to reign with God. In his final words Jesus calls his disciples to await the Spirit and then become his witnesses to the ends of the earth. As the account in the Acts of the Apostles ends, two men ask, “Why do you stand looking into the heavens?” Their question brings us back to the Earth we know where Jesus calls us to be his witnesses. Get busy.
What are you looking to heaven for that you can be doing here on Earth?