Reading: Acts 1:6-14 (Click to read text)
Moments before ascending to heaven, Jesus commissions his followers, saying, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Then as his disciples stare, Jesus is lifted up and vanishes from their sight.
And still they stare. Necks leaning backward, faces tilted toward the sky, eyes squinting in the sun, they stare, trying to see where Jesus went. Is that him, through the cloud? No, only a seagull drifting and circling. Over there? No, just a trick of the light.
While the disciples stare, two men slip among them and ask, "Why are you still staring upward?" The disciples -- not breaking their skyward gazes -- reply, "He told us we were his witnesses. So we're watching him, trying not to let him out of our sight." (I know, that part of the conversation isn't in the Bible.) The two strangers help them understand: "You cannot always gaze at Jesus; you must help others gaze at him too. You have been witnesses to Jesus' life and work; now you must bear witness into the world."
Who knows how long the disciples would have stood there, necks craned, eyes straining, had not the two men in white robes guided them toward their next steps in discipleship -- guided them to see that their personal experiences of Jesus were not the end, but only the beginning. --Rachel G. Hackenberg is a United Church of Christ minister, author, and former CML staff member.
Closing Prayer: Jesus, we long for you in our lives. We wait anxiously for an experience of you, for an "Aha!" moment of feeling your presence. Remind us, we pray, that we have been called not only into relationship with you but into relationship with all the world. Compel us into the work of witnessing. Amen.
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