6Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[a] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Weekends like this remind us that sometimes when things come to an end it isn’t the end at all, but a new beginning. We thank you for being the God of fresh starts and new beginnings. We thank you for being the God who will even work goodness through death. When we forget that you have that kind of power, remind us God and help us to keep the faith.
Lord we just read today a story about your son, who walked among us, died because of us, and through your power ascended into heaven from where he came. Don’t let us sit here today and just pretend we believe this, because if we really believe something like that really happened how can we be comfortable with just being comfortable. Help us to ponder the reality of what we have heard and let our hardened hearts break under the weight of the mystery that God almighty cares about us and desires relationship with his creation.
We don’t get lost when we follow the leader; may you be the leader of our lives. Help us to pursue you with an unfailing faith in your goodness, with a hope that we can become what you intend for us to become, with a love that overflows bringing blessing to all of your creation. Forgive us for our boredom when we stop considering the power of your story and think it is familiar. Forgive us for our apathy when we confuse a comfort that keeps us in our seat with blessing. Forgive us for our selfishness when we strive to make ourselves first not remembering we’re headed for last place in that direction.
Most of us are here today for something. Whatever the reason we came, I pray that we all would seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, that we would be willing to follow you into death so that we may learn what it means to live. May we draw strength and encouragement from this community of faith as we journey in the path of God together. For this we pray together the prayer that Jesus taught his followers to pray. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.