Acts 1:6-14 (NRSV)
6So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 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." 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 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."
12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
We begin the week in a space that oscillates between resurrection and ascension. In the midst of the Easter season, Ascension Day comes on Thursday (Luke 24:44-53), while today’s reading also sets the stage for the impending Pentecost (Acts 2). Are we looking for Jesus alive among us, waiting for Jesus to return from heaven, or even more solely focused on readying ourselves for the Holy Spirit’s Pentecost-power? In short, what season are we in?
No doubt, we have asked a similar question in recent months. With the whiplash of the coronavirus global pandemic unsettling everything, in what season do we now find ourselves? Days have blurred into weeks while patterns that marked time have been upended through stay-at-home orders. Is this the end of normal as we know it, a long pause in our usual rhythms, or the beginning of an entirely new way of being? What season is it in our life together?
Into the unknown, the known is declared: “You will be my witnesses!” For God is present in our witness—in every season.
God of all time, you are made known through your cloud of witnesses in all seasons. Strengthen us by your promise so that we may witness in these uncertain times to the certainty of your eternal presence. Amen.