Acts 1:1-11 (NRSV)
Chapter 1In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning Verse 2until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. Verse 3After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Verse 4While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; Verse 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
Verse 6So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" Verse 7He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. Verse 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Verse 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Verse 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. Verse 11They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
Today is the 40th Day of Easter, marked as the day of The Ascension of our Lord, as recounted at the end of Luke’s Gospel and here at the opening of his Acts of the Apostles.
The congregation I served hosted a Synod Assembly where a visiting church consultant challenged all the congregations to think outside-the-box and act creatively to invite and reach the unchurched in their communities. As an example, he promised $100 to the first church to offer outdoor evangelistic out-reach worship with fireworks on Ascension Day. So, the next year we did just that, complete with a service followed by ground displays designed by a professional pyrotechnician in our congregation spelling out HALLELUJAH with 8-foot-high letters in the parking lot and aerial displays choreographed to the “Hallelujah Chorus.” Even though we never received the $100, annually we invited the whole community and, yes, all stood looking up “oohing and aahing,” many of whom joined our church family! Some asked to be Baptized with Water and the Holy Spirit!
Almighty God, your only Son was taken into the heavens and in your presence intercedes for us. Receive us and our prayers for all the world, and in the end bring everything into your glory. Amen.