The Ascension (Luke 24:50-53)
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.
This is the last “joy” verse in the book of Luke, although I did skip over one along the way that I’ll come back to. I love that we end with Jesus ascending into heaven, and the disciples respond with joy. Luke started writing the book of Acts with a more detailed account of the ascension, but I really do appreciate this simplicity here. Jesus blesses them and goes up to heaven. The disciples worship there, return to Jerusalem (with great joy!) and set up camp in the temple to keep on worshiping.
There are times when it almost feels like I live at church. Between my responsibilities and my husband’s, we are here at least five days a week, often for more than eight hours at a stretch. That would be a typical “job.” But church work isn’t typical, and it isn’t exactly a job either. So there are times we leave and come back for meetings. Or times we just stay right through because it’s a whole lot easier than going home in between. And then there are the times when we need to come in on a “day off,” for a variety of reasons. It (almost) makes me miss living in the parsonage!
I love that I read this verse as I prepare for a very busy Sunday. This weekend is Rally Day, where we kick off our regular Sunday school year. We are also introducing a new Sunday evening worship service and adding confirmation class to our Sunday schedules. It’s going to make for a busy time on Sundays, and we will probably feel as though we are “continually in the temple.”
I don’t think the disciples minded it. I don’t mind it either. In fact, I’d rather be here on Sunday than some of the other days of the week. At times I wish Sunday were longer just to afford me more time to get stuff accomplished, like all of the teaching and worship stuff AND time to sit talking with people AND time to sit quietly in prayer. There’s never enough time for all of it on Sundays. This weekend we’ll probably be here all day Sunday, even through the afternoon just to get set up for the evening. And it will be wonderful. Maybe I’ll even fit in some quiet time to pray.
That’s what this time in Luke was for the disciples, I think. Like the time I have between services on Sunday, it was a time for them to recharge and pray, to prepare for when the Holy Spirit showed up in a BIG WAY just 10 days later. And then the work didn’t stop! For the disciples of Jesus, the work continues until He comes again.