Greetings Church Family,
“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:6-9, ESV)
Change is defined as “to make or become different, to pass from one form or phase into another.” (Oxford) Mention the word ‘change’ and one will encounter differing opinions; some people welcome, embrace, and enjoy change. Some people welcome a change from the seemingly daily monotony of life, whatever that may entail. People at times grow tired of the status quo and seek to alter the routine of life. If something stays the same for too long, some develop a dislike of “sameness” and at times even express a sense of irritability that accompanies the monotony of sameness. I am a Horton’s fan but do like to alter the weekly routine with a trip to Starbucks. Others do not welcome change, refuse to embrace it, and reject any forms of it. I find myself on this end of the spectrum as well. I have been a diehard lifelong (longsuffering I might add) Toronto Maple Leaf fan and have no desire to change my allegiance. Some of you might be thinking he’s a sucker for punishment! Someone expressed to me a few years back, “Ron, you are incredibly patient…you can take a lot of abuse…you are a longsuffering kind of guy!” I was stunned, wasn’t sure why this individual would say that as he himself and all of you know that patience and longsuffering are two words that do not describe me. I am impatient to put it mildly. I replied, “Why in the world would you say that?” He responded, “You’re a Leaf fan!” Enough said. I refuse to stop cheering for the beloved Leaf’s and my steadfast loyalty to the blue and white will never change…neither will Sam’s…we will go down in the history of Chortitz as two of the most loyal diehard Leaf fans ever…some things will never change!
Change is something we have all encountered in our world in recent months. Things have changed to put it mildly. I have not run into too many people who have honestly welcomed the change. Some have expressed a sense of relief to a degree, have welcomed the fact that life has slowed down to a degree, but all in all many have not welcomed the degree of the change. Too much change is not good as it disrupts the rhythm of life; too little change and life becomes somewhat mundane…the recent change in life seems to drastic.
Today is Ascension Day – a day of change. A day of change for the disciples, a day of change for the early believers. The ascension of Christ would bring about a major change for the disciples. They had walked with Jesus for three years, had enjoyed the constant companionship of the Lord, but now that was all going to change. Jesus was going to leave them. It was also a day of change for the early believers; they, along with the disciples, were told to wait until they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit…a monumental change was coming to these early believers to say the least, but Christ had to first ascend. This change had to take place for if it had not, John’s gospel informs us that “the Helper will not come to you” (John16:7, ESV). Though Jesus was departing, He assured the disciples, the early believers and us, that He would not desert His followers but would send them the Helper, the Holy Spirit. But first Christ had to ascend.
Let us pause today and remember the ascension of Christ; let us celebrate the fact that Christ has finished his work on earth and has ascended to the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33, Phil.2:9, Heb.1:3) – a place of exaltation. Bible scholar David Peterson states that, “the ascension was the ultimate confirmation of the status, heavenly exaltation, that had been his from the moment of his resurrection…the ascension indicated to the disciples of his total envelopment in God’s presence and glory.” Let us also look forward with great anticipation to the return of Christ. Luke informs us that, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11, ESV). Theologian John Stott, commenting on the implications of the ascension and future return of Christ states, “until Christ comes again, the apostles must get on with their witness, for that was their mandate…their calling was to be witnesses not stargazers.” May the implications of the ascension and the reality of Christ’s return remind us that we too, like the apostles, with the aid of the Helper, must get on with our witness, acknowledging that Jesus will call his servants to account (Lk.12:35-48). I pray that this truth changes us; that it has a transforming, purifying, and cleansing effect on our lives. I pray that it would cause us to “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self- controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12-13)