Luke 24:44-53 (NRSV)
44Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with youthat everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Forty days following the Resurrection of Our Lord we mark the Ascension of Our Lord, the day Jesus ascended to heaven in the presence of his disciples. Luke’s account is filled with awe and joy as Jesus offers peace, shares a bit of broiled fish, interprets scripture, proclaims forgiveness of sins, and promises power from on high to invigorate the witness of his disciples. Then as he ascends, with hands outstretched Jesus blesses them—a sign of Christ’s enduring presence even if his physical body now resides with God.
During the social distancing measures necessitated by COVID-19, my aunt and uncle’s sign company has sold a series of lawn signs called “signs of hope and gratitude.” The signs thank essential workers and offer words of community and empowerment. My favorite are the “hug signs” we purchased and placed in our neighbors’ yards that declare, “You’ve been hugged.” A sign of enduring blessing and love when physical hugs are not permitted. God is present in blessing.
God of ascension, you open your hands in blessing and promise us your very self. May we be a blessing to others as we share your abiding love with the world. Amen.