Today is Ascension Day – which is not necessarily a holy day that we celebrate in the Protestant church. Forty days after Easter Sunday, this is the day we remember that Christ “ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of the Father,” as the good old Apostles’ Creed says. Since we don’t usually do much with it, it is not very comfortable for us and does leave us asking, so what now?
Well, the truth is that the Ascension marks the transition from the first forty days of Eastertide to the final ten before the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. It creates a sort of liminal period, when the work Christ began with his crucifixion and resurrection is begun, but is not truly completed because we have not yet received our full commission with the tongues of flame.
What is interesting about this, however, is that many theologians, especially twentieth-century theologians, would point out that this great in-between is where the church is meant to live all the time. Everyday. All year round.
The truth is that until Christ returns, God’s work here on earth is not yet complete. We live in the already-but-not-yet Kingdom of God that is tangibly visible in our midst, but only for momentary glimpses. When the full vision comes, we will likely realize how small our views have honestly been.
For many people, living in a permanent liminality or time of change (scary word, I know) is difficult. It can feel as though we are forever out of control. On the other hand, moments stuck in the in-between are also quite exciting. They offer unique opportunities to see anew and chances to live as one might not have before.
Living each day as though it has the prospect of a million possibilities may just give us the push we need to open our eyes to God’s ferment at work in our midst.
So, as Christ rises, remember that the Spirit falls that we might rise, too. Rise up into the people of God we are intended to be – living in that already-but-not-yet Kingdom of God and working for it every new day. Until the final new day when Christ returns.
Blessings, Pastor Janie