We often think of what Jesus has done (death and resurrection) or what Jesus will do (glorious return), but very little of what he is doing now (intercession). In Christ’s ascension we see how much we need and have a priest, and this gives us new boldness for things we are facing today.
Most of us wonder what will or should happen when the Holy Spirit comes upon the church. But according to Acts, when the Spirit comes chains of bondage are broken. First, the disciples are set free from the chains of self-centered self-absorption (addictions and attachments). Then, the Holy Spirit hands the church the chain cutters inviting us to a mission of liberation. The Spirit empowers us to cut chains by witnessing with works and words.
Everyone wants to go to heaven … but not today! Perhaps it’s because we’ve misjudged it. What if heaven is other than we think? Closer than we think? In the ascension of Jesus everything changes on earth and in heaven. So why do we still stand “gazing into heaven” as though it were some idyllic place far removed from our world and our mission?
Organizations are often attracted to the obsolete, to things that should have worked but did not, to things that were once productive but no longer are. Then something happens – something unpredictable and unwelcome – that forces us to re-examine our assumptions, methods and goals. It’s a moment that calls us forward, from Jerusalem to Antioch, and if we go God will meet us there with new power and new opportunities. I believe our church is in an Antioch moment that calls for us to establish new presence in the community, outside these walls.
The Church is the hope of its community. Like the first disciples, God calls us to “gather (and) stay until we’ve been clothed with power from on high,” and then “to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth”. Our mission is to gather and to send. We gather people from the city and the Church, and help to clothe them with power from on high, then we send them back to the city and the Church to be witnesses all over the earth.