“Are we there yet?” This question captures a weariness from travel and an eagerness to arrive. Whether on a family road trip or working toward a professional goal, exhaustion and excitement often merge on a journey.
In today’s passage, the disciples had already been on quite a journey with Jesus....
God, when unanswered questions seem to block the path, open our eyes to the purpose we have been given and our hearts to the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Though Jesus has taught his disciples that God’s kingdom is not an earthly one, following the Resurrection some are still expecting him to set up a kingdom on earth. Instead, Jesus ascends into heaven in front of them, being taken up in the clouds. The scene recalls Psalm 68, where the Lord is described as one who rides on the clouds across the expanse of the heavens. In the Gospel reading, Jesus anticipates his coming departure and prays for his followers. Peter talks about a trial—literally a “fiery ordeal”—that is testing Christians. The reference to fire may be specific, for the Roman historian Tacitus records that Nero killed Christians in Rome by burning them alive. The author may therefore be speaking about suffering that is not just metaphorical.
Read Acts 1:6-14. When have you experienced the power of community?Read Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35. Recall a time when you recognized God’s power with fear and joy. How might that have been a foretaste of God’s kingdom?Read 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11. How have you walked with faith through suffering?Read John 17:1-11. What does it mean for you or your congregation that Jesus prayed for unity among his followers?
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