Absent or Present?

Today's Bible reading: Acts 1:9-11

Jesus had to leave His disciples, but He did so in life, not in death.  The casual reader of the Ascension story might come to the conclusion that it simply stands for a final parting.  It certainly meant that from this time on, Jesus followers could no longer see Him physically.  Yet a more careful reading shows that every mention of Jesus going back to the Father contains a promise of His presence for us, not simply a statement of His absence from us.

Before disappearing in a cloud - a symbol of God’s glorious presence - Jesus lifts up His hands to bless the disciples.  As always in the Bible - so also here - blessing means the assurance of a gracious presence.  No wonder the disciples return to Jerusalem and go straight to the temple in order to praise God!  In short, they now know that they are themselves Christ’s presence in the world, through their witness, and they know that He will be with them to the end of time.  Further, His going is at the same time the promise of His second and final coming.

Prayer: Oh God, on the day of Pentecost You taught the hearts of Your faithful people by sending them the life of Your Holy Spirit.  Grant that by the same Spirit we may have right judgment in all things and always rejoice in His holy strengthening; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.