Published on Nov 17th, 2010 by Bethany Church | 0

“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them. “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jeruslem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1: 6-11)

I agree with you–this is not a traditional Advent text in the sense that it does not reflect the Hope we have for the traditional coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. It is meant to move us beyond the present Advent wreath and burning candles that remind us of what has already come. Scripture, in many ways, has been fulfilled. This particular text is meant to reflect, and remind us of, a different and unfading hope in One who is still to come. For the people of God, Hope is a really hard habit to break.

The image of Jesus being lifted up into the air and being, covered with a cloud is a very descriptive one. The image of the disciples gazing into the sky, heads thrown back and necks bent and aching, from the effort of trying desperately to keep Jesus in view for as long as possible, is a heart-wrenching one. It reminds me of when I was a little girl standing at a large airport window as the plane carrying a much-beloved relative back home would climb up, up, up, into the sky and disappear from my sight behind the clouds. And I would keep standing there watching–long after the plane was no longer visible–as if by watching long, enough, the plane would suddenly reappear and come back.

Hope is a hard habit to break and the words of the two (angel) men–“This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw him go into heaven”–are powerful words that encourage our Hope for the One who is still to come. Just as Jesus was present and then was suddenly gone, one day He will suddenly appear again and be present with us. “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am…therefore I say, ‘Watch'”. (John 14:3 New Living Translation; Matthew 24:36-51)

How marvelous it is that we have the Advent Season to remind us how to patiently wait and watch for that which we know is coming.

Love, Pastor Burse

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