by Louise Westfall
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, when Jesus and the disciples were all together, he said … 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. When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They 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.” Acts 1:8-11
It was just like she was in the room. She’s been dead for years, but I swear I felt her presence. If you are fortunate enough to have had an experience like this, then you understand well how someone can be “here and not here” simultaneously. The power of memory recreates scenes in our mind’s eye, and through them we can remember what happened, how we felt, what impact it had upon us. Sometimes the spiritual reality of life beyond life impinges on the physical world and we sense the closeness between heaven and earth and the link connecting both realities. The Church calls it “the communion of the saints,” a bond uniting us with beloved ones who have died. Memorial Day invokes the power of remembering both to comfort loss and to move us forward into life.
One mystery of faith is how Jesus was raised from death, but is no longer here. He’s alive, but not here among us in the flesh. The Bible doesn’t try to resolve the mystery, but describes his “ascension” into heaven, returning to God to rule, to pray for us, to connect us with God’s love. The disciples are told to stop staring into heaven, and instead look for the living Jesus in the world where he is still active and loving.
Thank you, gracious God, that you have not left us alone. You are here, and you are still speaking and acting in the world today. Help us trust that you intend good for the whole creation. We give you thanks for what you are doing now to bring love, justice, and peace to earth as it is in heaven. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Make an Intention
As you go through your day, notice signs of God’s activity around you. Maybe it’s something you see with your eyes, hear with your heart, or intuit with your imagination. Breathe a silent prayer of thanksgiving. Consider ways you might demonstrate God’s work of peacemaking, and become someone else’s sign.